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Manoj Kohli, CEO (International) & Joint MD, Bharti Airtel

Airtel, which officially launched in Rwanda earlier this year, has reiterated that it will invest USD100 million into its Rwandan operations over the next three years.

In a meeting this weekend between Manoj Kohli, CEO (International) and Joint MD of Bharti Airtel and Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Airtel reinforced its commitment to work with the government in supporting the knowledge-based economy.

Airtel plans to invest USD 100 million in its operations over the next three years and will work towards generating both direct and indirect employment opportunities within its ecosystem. The company will also be bringing in partners like IBM and Ericsson to set up and manage world class facilities in the country.

Kohli said: “Rwanda is a promising telecommunications market and we are grateful to the Government and people of Rwanda for the support extended to us since our entry into the country.”

“Our strategy for Rwanda is in harmony with the government’s vision to make telecommunications a priority,” he continued. “We plan to work closely with the government to provide access to affordable telecoms products and services across the country.”

Rwanda is among the fastest growing telecom markets in Africa and, according to the National Statistics Institute of Rwanda, mobile penetration in the country was at 38.4% as of July 2011. Airtel was awarded a license by the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA) late last year to operate 2G and 3G GSM mobile services. Kohli said Airtel’s overall strategy remains in line with that of the government, and it would ensure that the Airtel network is extended to rural communities.

He said that although Kigali is currently operating on a 2G network, the company plans to launch 3G services in the market within the upcoming quarter.

He said the launch of Airtel’s 3G platform will help stimulate change to how subscribers experience the web on internet-enabled devices technology will be beneficial for a variety of users, which include large corporates, Small or Medium Businesses and the youth. In addition, the organization is committed to the development of a wireless broadband infrastructure. Wireless broadband is technology that provides high-speed wireless Internet access or computer networking access over a wide area.

Rwanda will also benefit from Airtel’s mobile commerce platform – Airtel Money. The service will allow consumers and communities to take advantage of the mobile commerce reality sweeping through the industry by enabling them to conduct a range of financial transactions quickly and easily.

The company says its vision for Rwanda stretches far beyond business priorities. Since launching in March this year, the company has strengthened its commitment to the community by adopting a primary school in Kicukiro. Airtel will be refurbishing the school to ensure that its students are educated in an environment most suitable for learning.

In addition, Airtel plans to bring its football talent search – Airtel Rising Stars – into Rwanda.

Since its opening season last year, this pan-African tournament has grown to be Africa’s largest youth football initiative. Its focus on identifying and nurturing budding soccer talent from the grassroots onto a national stage provides a platform for upcoming soccer talent under the age of seventeen to showcase their skills to leading scouts and coaches, which gives the participants an opportunity to further their football skills. Making a long-lasting positive impact on the community remains a priority for the organisation.

Airtel Africa’s parent company – Bharti Airtel – is a leading integrated telecommunications company with operations in 20 countries across Africa and Asia. In Africa, the Airtel brand is present in both Francophone and Anglophone markets spanning Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

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