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Bharti Group CEO Sunil Mittal

Indian operator Bharti Airtel’s latest results show its African operations are still weighing the company down.

Bharti acquired Zain’s African operations last year.

In the company’s results for the quarter ending 30 September, Bharti said it had seen a decline in profitability overall, with many of its African operations still struggling to show a profit.

However, the company is reported to be confident that Africa will see a turnaround and grow to profitability over the next few years. Bharti Airtel CMD Sunil Mittal said Africa’s revenues rose 23% to over USD1 billion during the quarter, with plans afoot to expand operations in the continent.

As at the end of the quarter the company had 48.4 million GSM mobile customers on its network. During the quarter, the company added 2.1 million customers, with an ARPU of  USD 7.3 per month. The blended monthly usage per customer, during the quarter was at 128 minutes.

Among the African industry developments highlighted in the report, Bharti Airtel said interconnect rates in Ghana are being reviewed by the regulator, with Bharti in discussion with the Government on driving the interconnect rates lower based on Long Run Incremental Cost (LRIC) study.

In Tanzania, discussions are currently ongoing with the Government and Regulator for implementation of Mobile Number Portability (MNP).

The target given by the Regulator is December 2011. However Operators have requested for a postponement to June 2012.

Meanwhile, in Uganda, Bharti said current interconnect rates are being reviewed; in Burkina Faso discussions have commenced for the acquisition of a 3G license.

And in Gabon, a MOU has been signed between the Regulator and Airtel on the granting of a 3G license and the extension of the 2G license to match the duration of the 3G license.

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