Bharti Airtel has said that it intends to create tower companies in each African country where it has operations following the acquisition of Kuwait-based Zain’s subsidiaries in the region in June 2010. The Indian company, which is currently working on a number of programmes aimed at cutting costs at its new units, is thought to be planning the move after success with such ventures in its home territory. Commenting on the plans, Manoj Kohli, Airtel Africa’s CEO, noted: ‘The objective is to optimise the infrastructure costs of the entire industry and Bharti Airtel will lead it like it has led it in India … It will probably lead to a much lower cost structure, which is good for the industry and good for the consumers too’. It is expected that the management of the tower companies within the operating units in Africa will be independent of Airtel’s consumer business, the executive also noted.
Other cost-saving measures introduced by Bharti have focused on automation, with Kohli pointing to the ‘Easy Recharge’ top-up service in Nigeria, which allows customer to receive airtime electronically at a retailer therefore eliminating the need to print and distribute airtime vouchers. ‘We would like to have this across all African countries [where Bharti operates]’, he said.