Airtel chooses Ericsson for Rwanda build-out

Bharti Airtel has launched its operation in Rwanda, opting to partner with Ericsson for the deployment, rather than Nokia Siemens, with which it announced a multi-market African partnership in October last year.

Ericsson will manage Airtel’s Rwandan network from end-to-end, including providing OSS/BSS solutions and managed services.Last year the Indian-headquartered carrier struck a partnership with NSN to expand, plan and operate its mobile networks in  Madagascar, Malawi, Congo Brazzaville, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Airtel said that it took just 83 days to build its new network from scratch, claiming it represents the fastest Greenfield launch in history of Sub-Saharan Africa. The Indian operator has also pledged to invest $100m over the next three years, taking its reach in Africa to 17 markets.

Rwandan Prime Minister Dr Pierre Damien Habumuremyi said that the government is looking to partner with the private sector to provide “good quality, accessible and affordable telecommunications services”.

“We are especially excited about the prospect of connecting Rwanda with the rest of the East African region and, indeed, with the rest of Africa. As Rwandans begin engaging in business ventures and looking for regional partners, telecommunications companies – like Airtel – that are able to provide access to a pan-African wireless network, become a crucial part of expansion,” he said.

Manoj Kohli, CEO at Bharti Airtel added that Rwanda represents “an extremely promising market” for the carrier.

According to Informa’s WCIS, mobile penetration in the country was at 41.49 per cent at the end of 2011. According to the World Bank, each 10 per cent of broadband penetration results in a 1.3 per per cent increase in per capita GDP growth in developing countries.

Airtel was awarded the license by the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA) last year to operate 2G and 3G GSM mobile services.

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