Indian telecoms operator Bharti Airtel plans to invest around USD100 million in Niger to improve the reach and quality of its network in the West African nation by the end of 2012, Reuters reports. Last month Bharti finalised the acquisition of the African assets of Kuwait-based Zain Group, in a deal valued at USD10.7 billion. The company has taken over Zain’s operations in 15 countries, including Sudan, Malawi, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Uganda. The Indian company expects to introduce the Airtel brand across its new units by October 2010. ‘We are going to start our activities in Niger in October and, by 2012, we will invest USD100 million in expanding the network, improving quality and the coverage in the rural areas,’ commented Manoj Kohli, chief executive of the group’s international business, adding: ‘We will ensure that telecoms becomes more accessible in terms of price and the quality of the service improves.’ According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Zain Niger is the country’s largest cellco by subscribers, with 1.58 million users at the end of March 2010 (a market share of 61%), followed by Orange Niger with 563,000 users, Moov Niger (341,000) and SahelCom (105,000).