Airtel launches operations in Rwanda, in 83 days: fastest Greenfield launch in history of Sub-Saharan Africa

31st March 2012
Airtel launches operations in Rwanda, in 83 days: fastest Greenfield launch in history of Sub-Saharan Africa
Manoj Kohli (CEO) International and Joint Managing Director, Bharti Airtel, with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Rwanda, Dr. Pierre Damien Habumuremyi and Marcellin Paluku, Country Manager of Airtel Rwanda, at the launch of Airtel in Kigali.

KIGALI, Rwanda, March 31, 2012: India-headquartered global telecom provider, Bharti Airtel has launched operations in Rwanda in a record time of 83 days, expanding its footprint on the African continent to 17 countries. 
Airtel says it will invest over $ 100 million in its operations over the next three years and generate direct and indirect employment opportunities.
Says Manoj Kohli, CEO (International) & Joint MD, Bharti Airtel: “We are delighted to launch our operations and bring Airtel to the people of Rwanda. We believe that Rwanda is an extremely promising market and this launch further strengthens our footprint in eastern Africa. It will be our endeavour to bring world-class and affordable services to our customers in Rwanda and add value to the economy. We would like to thank the Rwandan government for giving us this opportunity, and we are committed to contributing to their aim of bridging the digital divide in the country.”
Adds Dr. Pierre Damien Habumuremyi, Prime Minister, Rwanda. “The government welcomes Airtel into our country. We are looking to partner with the private sector to provide good quality, accessible and affordable telecommunications services. We are especially excited about the prospect of connecting Rwanda with the rest of the East African region and, indeed, with the rest of Africa. As Rwandans begin engaging in business ventures and looking for regional partners, telecommunications companies – like Airtel – that are able to provide access to a pan-African wireless network, become a crucial part of expansion.”
IBM will deploy and manage the information technology (IT) infrastructure and applications to further support Airtel’s goal of providing innovative mobile services. Says Steve Martin, IBM Vice President and Senior Project Executive, Airtel Africa: “Rwanda is an important market for IBM and we are actively strengthening our local presence and increasing our ability to serve our customers and partners in the country. We are happy to assist Airtel with its entry into the Rwandan market and ensure the very highest levels of support”. 

Ericsson, the world’s leading provider of services and technology to telecom operators, will manage the network from end-to-end, including OSS/BSS solutions and managed services. Lars Lindén, head of Region Sub-Saharan Africa for Ericsson, says: “This solution is using the latest Ericsson portfolio, and will be the first Airtel network designed as an all-IP solution. That means Airtel will be able to provide advanced services to its subscribers, expand quickly to accommodate quick growth, and keep operating expenses down. The inaugural call was placed on the system on March 7. It took just 83 days to build this network from the start – the fastest Greenfield launch in history in Sub-Saharan Africa.”
Rwanda is among the fastest growing telecom markets in Africa and, according to the National Statistics Institute of Rwanda, mobile penetration in the country was at 38.4 per cent as of July 2011. The rapidly growing private sector – which includes telecommunications infrastructure and ICT – presents many opportunities for the development of the industry and the country’s economy. In fact, according to the World Bank, each 10 per cent of broadband penetration results in a 1.3 per cent increase in per capita GDP growth in developing countries.

Airtel was awarded the license by the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA) last year to operate 2G and 3G GSM mobile services. Currently, the Airtel brand is present in both Francophone and Anglophone markets across the continent, spanning Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.