India’s Bharti Airtel has reportedly signed a deal with Chinese vendor Huawei Technologies under which the latter will expand and manage the operator’s mobile networks across a number of its African subsidiaries. According to Reuters, in a deal rumoured to be worth around USD400 million, Huawei is expected to enhance and extend 2G and 3G networks in around 40% of Airtel’s African units, while the deal is also believed to cover the management of operations and network maintenance by the vendor. Back in February 2011 Airtel said that it would partner with three vendors – Huawei, Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) and Ericsson– for its activities in Africa, and deals with the latter two are expected to be revealed at some point in the near future.
As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Airtel bolstered its presence in Africa significantly in mid-2010, acquiring the operations of Kuwait-based Zain in a deal worth approximately USD10.7 billion. Under the terms of the deal between the two companies, Airtel acquired subsidiaries in 15 countries, with those being: Burkina Faso, Chad, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. On the back of the deal’s completion Airtel claimed that it had become the world’s fifth largest mobile group, with full commercial wireless operations in 19 countries – the 15 newly-acquired African units alongside India and its other existing subsidiaries in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the Seychelles.