BHARTI AIRTEL, the world's fourth largest mobile phone operator, announced that it has signed an agreement to buy its rival Warid Telecom Uganda.
The press statement issued by Airtel yesterday did not reveal financial details of the deal; however, the move is expected to increase the company's market share in Uganda by 39 percent.
The India based firm first ventured into Rwanda in 2011 with an initial investment of US$100 million, joining MTN Rwanda, the country's largest telecoms provider by market share and Tigo Rwanda.
"We are delighted at this agreement with Warid, which also happens to be the first in-market acquisition in Bharti Airtel's history. We believe this market consolidation offers great synergies by bringing together the best of Airtel and Warid to better serve customers in Uganda," pointed out the Bharti Airtel MD and CEO (International) Manoj Kohli.
The deal with Warid, the third largest mobile phone company in Uganda, will add 2.8 million customers to its total user base in the country to 7.4 million.
"We are extremely pleased with this development, which offers Warid consumers added benefits like wider network coverage, most extensive 3G network, world class products and services from one of the world's largest mobile services provider," mentioned Mohammed Nahayan, a Warid Uganda Board Member.
Barti first ventured into Africa in 2010 at a time when growth in its Indian market had started showing signs of saturation. The company, which opened shop in money-losing operations in 15 African countries for US $9 billion, has yet to turn a profit there.
"This move to expand the 'One Airtel' network will not only lower roaming rates across Africa and South Asia, but will also improve general service delivery in the market because of increased competition," revealed Aquilina Jumbe, the Marketing head of Airtel Rwanda Limited.
Airtel boasts presence across 17 African countries, with a customer base of over 62 million customers, reported in December 2012.
It is globally ranked as the 4th largest mobile services provider in terms of customer base with over 269 million clients.
In Rwanda active mobile subscribers as of February 2013 are six million, according to Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority, while MTN enjoying the largest share at 71 percent.
Mobile cellular penetration rate reached jumped from 44.8 percent in June 2012 to 56 percent in March 2013.