Indian telecoms group Bharti Airtel has announced it has secured a licence to provide 2G and 3G cellular services in Rwanda, The New Times reports. The company plans to invest over USD100 million over the next three years, including USD30 million for the purchase of the operating licence. It aims to bring ‘affordable services and innovative products’ to the market, and plans to expand its wireless broadband network to all major towns across the country. In June 2010 Bharti Airtel acquired the African assets of Kuwait’s Zain Group, in a deal valued at USD10.7 billion. The company took over Zain’s operations in 15 countries, including Malawi, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Uganda.
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database states that Bharti will join two other mobile operators in the market: South Africa-based MTN Rwanda, which had a total of 2.794 million mobile subscribers at the end of June 2011; and Millicom Rwanda (Tigo), which is majority-owned by Luxembourg-based Millicom International Cellular and had a subscriber base of over 812,000 at the same date. A third operator, Rwandatel, had its mobile licence revoked in April 2011, after the company failed to meet licence obligations, such as coverage, quality of service and planned investment targets. Rwandatel is 80% owned by Libyan government investment vehicle LAP Green Networks, although telecoms regulator RURA said the decision to cancel its mobile licence had nothing to do with enforcing a United Nations (UN) resolution to impose sanctions on Libya, including the freezing of its assets, following unrest in the North African nation.