Telecommunications services provider, Bahari Airtel has announced that the Rwanda Utility Regulatory Authority (RURA) has approved the transfer of 100% of shares held by Millicom in Tigo Rwanda. This will make Airtel the second largest operator in Rwanda behind MTN.
Existing Tigo Rwanda subscribers will not be affected by the move. They will not be required to change their telephone numbers, and cash services will not be affected.
The merged entity will have the largest customer base in Rwanda with 5.9 million subscribers. The combined networks of the two companies will serve customers with voice/ data services, global roaming and mobile banking services. It will also have Rwanda’s largest sales and distribution network.
According to Bharti, the acquisition will position Airtel as number two in Rwanda with revenues of over USD $80 million and a revenue market share of over 40 percent. Existing Millicom Rwanda customers will join over 370 million customers on Airtel’s global network in seventeen countries. Figures from RURA show Airtel had 1.63 million subscribers in October 2017.
Airtel announced its planned acquisition in December 2017, in part as an affirmation its commitment to its African operations. Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Mittal said at the time that the deal would allow Airtel “to become a profitable and strong challenger” in Rwanda. The group is aiming to see all of its African units deliver positive margins and cashflow this year.
The deal will see Airtel Rwanda combine with Tigo Rwanda, to form a new entity that will lead the market (respectively, the two operators currently hold 13% and 34% of the market). This will also reduce the number of operators in the market. The new entity will face competition from MTN (40% market share) and KT Rwanda Networks (8%).
The new Rwandan unit of Airtel will provide voice, data, global roaming and mobile banking services. It will have the largest sales and distribution network in the market as well as the largest share, although it will be second in terms of revenue.
Bharti Airtel saw the revenue for its African operations increase 5.1% year-on-year for the fiscal Q3, reaching $738 million. Subscriber growth increased by 4.7% to 84.1 million