Bharti selects IBM as African technology partner

Partnership to enable Bharti’s 16 operations in Africa to deliver cost-effective mobile services

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Bharti selects IBM as African technology partner The deal focuses on delivering affordable mobile services for all in the African continent. (Getty Images)
By  Nithyasree Trivikram Published  September 20, 2010

Bharti Airtel, India's leading mobile operator, has chosen IT specialist IBM to manage the computing technology and services for its recently acquired mobile networks in 16 African countries. The agreement is expected to be finalised in the fourth quarter.

Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman and managing director of Bharti Airtel, said that there are huge opportunities in Africa to transform the way in which people communicate, and the company's  focus is to deliver on that by offering affordable mobile services for all. "More importantly, this alliance underlines our commitment to the growth of Africa's ICT sector and contributes towards bridging the digital divide on the continent," Mittal said.

A Deloitte report states that only 40 out of every 100 Africans have a mobile phone.  However, demand is growing at an average rate of 25% annually, and a 10% rise in mobile penetration could increase GDP by 1.2% in developing markets. 

The strategic partnership will enable Bharti Airtel to scale up its network and systems to cater to more than 100 million African customers by 2012, the company said.

Samuel J. Palmisano, chairman and CEO of IBM, said: "We have achieved great success together in India, and now we are bringing that model to Africa.  By building a 21st century telecommunications infrastructure for the continent - in effect, treating all of Africa as a system of systems - we expect to help spark transformation not just in communications but across all sectors of society - empowering businesses, governments and individual citizens to connect, innovate and achieve economic growth."

Bharti Airtel has seen its subscriber base grow from six million to more than 188 million across its operations ending August 2010.

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