Bharti Airtel intends to invest USD615 million in its Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) mobile unit, Airtel Congo, over the next three years. The announcement was made by Airtel DRC managing director, Antoine Pamboro, who indicated that the cellco’s New Delhi-based parent company has already invested more than USD1 billion in network infrastructure in the DRC.
In other news, during a tour of Airtel’s operations in and around Kinshasa, telecoms minister Tryphon Kin-Kiey Mulumba indicated that that the government will soon launch a tender for 3G licences. Previous attempts at initiating an auction stuttered after a request to the global community for technical assistance with the auctioning of the licences fell on deaf ears. It is widely acknowledged that there is a paucity of useful spectrum in the country due to poor frequency resource management by the government.
Airtel is believed to be the largest mobile operator in the DRC in terms of subscribers, competing with the likes of Vodacom, Tigo and Congo Chine Telecom (CCT). However, over the years as many as 16 companies have been granted mobile telephony licences, only to come unstuck due to myriad legal and financial issues.