Airtel to invest $600 million in Nigerian operations

Bharti Airtel CEO Manoj Kohli told reporters in Lagos that the company will also invest in rural telephony and introduce a corporate social responsibility programme that includes setting up schools that would offer free education to underprivileged children in rural communities

India's largest cellular service company Bharti Airtel will invest $600 million in Nigeria's mobile market following its takeover of Zain Telecom's African business for around $10.7 billion, reports PTI.

Manoj Kohli, CEO, international and joint managing director, told reporters in the country's commercial capital, Lagos, on Tuesday that Bharti will also invest in rural telephony and introduce a corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme that includes setting up schools that would offer free education to underprivileged children in rural communities.

"We are very delighted to be in Nigeria and at the outset like to express our deep gratitude and than the government of Nigeria for their overwhelming support. We want to be a partner in Nigeria's growth and will work with the government to take the telecom network deep into all corners of the country to touch the common man," Mr Kohli said.

The company will also bring its ecosystem of global partners to Nigeria and this will increase employment opportunities in the country with a teeming number of unemployed school leavers.

Mr Kohli said Bharti will embark on an aggressive expansion in Nigeria in order to boost the profile of the country with a population of 150 million people as an emerging market powerhouse.

He noted that mobile phone customers in Nigeria use only 50 minutes of airtime a month whereas 450 minutes is obtainable in India and promised to make an improvement.

He sounded optimistic about the future of Africa stating: "If a company hopes to grow, they have to be in Africa and the jewel of Africa is Nigeria."

Zain's Nigeria CEO Rajan Swaroop said: "In Nigeria we will continue to build on the momentum ...introduce innovative products and services for our customers in Nigeria."

Mobile telephony was introduced in Nigeria in early 2000 and South African-based MTN controls half of the market despite the presence of some other companies like Globacom and Etisalat.

However, lowering of call tariff may give Bharti an edge as most Nigerians complain of high cost of making calls.

Bharti Airtel embarked on the largest ever telecom takeover by an Indian firm on 8 June, 2010, when it completed a transaction to buy Kuwait-based Zain Telecom's businesses in 15 African countries for $10.7 billion.

The Africa holdings include Burkina Faso, Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Madagascar, Niger, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Chad and Zambia.

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‘Telcos may start WiMAX services soon’

Subject to availability of spectrum, most operators would like to launch services as soon as possible as they are eagerly looking to recover the cost of BWA spectrum that was auctioned in June, WiMAX Forum chairman CS Rao said

WiMAX Forum, a representative body of WiMAX players, on Tuesday said telcos who have won Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) licences would like to launch WiMAX services as soon as the spectrum is made available to them, reports PTI.

WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) is a technology, which is used to provide high speed Internet services to mobile customers.

"Subject to availability of spectrum, most operators would like to launch services as soon as possible. The operators very well know the technology available today. They are eagerly looking to recover the cost that they have paid during the auction," WiMAX Forum chairman CS Rao told reporters in New Delhi.

BWA spectrum enables high-speed Internet access as well as Internet telephony and TV services. It can also be used for voice and high-speed data services.

The government has raised over Rs38,500 crore from the BWA spectrum auction, which closed last month.

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Near-term rate hikes by banks, NBFCs unlikely: HDFC CEO

On continuing with HDFC’s ‘teaser’ home loan rate, Keki Mistry said the benefit of lower cost of funds is being passed on to customers

Leading home loan lender HDFC today said a hike in interest rates by banks is unlikely in the near-term, notwithstanding an increase in key lending and borrowing rates by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) last week, reports PTI.

"In the very short-term, I do not see any hikes by banks and NBFCs (non-banking financial companies)," HDFC vice-chairman and chief executive officer Keki Mistry told reporters in Mumbai.

The Reserve Bank will be taking into account data on inflation, impact of the fuel price hike, progress of the monsoon and the government's spending programme before announcing its quarterly monetary policy due on 27th July, analysts said.

In order to check inflation, the apex bank is expected to further increase the repo and reverse repo rates in its policy announcement, they said.

Contrary to suggestions from his peers that credit offtake has been low in the first quarter of 2010-11, Mistry said HDFC has witnessed "very strong" numbers in the period. "I cannot share the numbers, but they are very strong."

On continuing with the teaser loan, he said it had arrived on the rate based on cost of funds and as the cost has been low, it deemed it right to pass on the benefit to customers.

HDFC had last week announced the continuation of a home loan product under which clients pay a fixed rate of 8.25% till March 2011 and 9.25% for the next year, after which prevailing rates become applicable.

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COMMENTS

TP Viswamatjam

7 years ago

As in the case of petroleum products, bank interest also should be left to the individual bankers. There should be no administered rate. In the interest of financial security of the banks, RBI can probably put a cap on maximum interest allowed by banks on various deposits.

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