Airtel to exit Nigeria, 13 other African countries

Bharti Airtel has announced that it will be exiting 14 African countries within a year. The affected countries include: Chad, Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

The telecom operator is faced with poor performance across those markets. Two years ago, when Airtel began talks to sell off its operations in Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo Brazzaville and Sierra Leone to Orange, the company had stated that it wouldn’t be exiting Africa.

Struggling Home And Abroad

Apparently, Airtel’s foray into Africa hasn’t paid off so well. Back then, the sale of those operations was done to reduce the company’s debt portfolio. It seems clear that things haven’t worked much any better for them in other African markets since then.

In Airtel’s home country, India, Reliance Jio is giving them a big run for their money and messing things up for everyone. In Nigeria, Airtel is the only one of the big four mobile operators that is yet to launch a 4G LTE network. Perhaps the company does not see it as a profitable venture, given the present circumstances.

The Odd Case of Airtel Nigeria

Airtel Nigeria seems cursed to continually be sold off by one owner after the other and consequently continually be rebranded. The network which started as ECONET Wireless Nigeria has undergone several acquisition and rebranding exercises that it has become its trademark. It went from ECONET Wireless Nigeria to Vodacom Nigeria to Vmobile Nigeria to Celtel Nigeria to Zain Nigeria to Airtel Nigeria. When this exit operation is finally concluded, once again, Airtel Nigeria will undergo another identity change. The 6th one since it landed on the country’s shores. Amazing stuff, really.

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