Fresh from its USD9 billion acquisition of the African operations of Kuwait’s Zain, Bharti Airtel of India has revealed plans to invest USD150 million over the next three years to expand Zain Tanzania’s networks and services. Local newspaper The Citizen quotes Bharti’s CEO for international affairs, Mr Manoj Kohli, as saying ‘Plans are in place to invest USD150 million in Tanzania during the next few years to expand our network, IT (Information Technology) system and services and reach out to Tanzania’s rural farmers… we will take a major rural drive.’
Bharti considers the Tanzanian market ripe for growth and notes that current fixed and mobile teledensity rates are ‘too low for an attractive market like Tanzania’. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database writes that the country was home to 16.59 million mobile subscribers at the end of March 2010, a cellular penetration rate of 39.1%, however with many people owning more than one Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards, it is estimated that only 12.5 million Tanzanians own a mobile phone. ‘We should soon be able to double the number of subscribers from the current 12.5 million to at least 25 million subscribers,’ said Kohli. Zain Tanzania ended 1Q10 with 5.047 million subscribers, a market share of 30.4%, behind the country’s leading player Vodacom with 5.859 million (35.3%).