Mobile Internet

Airtel-Telkom aim big after the merger as they look to topple Safaricom

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Airtel came out as the fastest network in India surpassing Jio and Vodafone by a huge margin. There is no doubt that Airtel will make the market competition and is only the only company that can compete with Jio. That said, the company does not only have a presence in India and Asia but also in Africa. It recently received a huge investment from Qatar group, bringing down its loan in Africa by hundreds of million dollars.

That said, it has a strong presence in Africa and operates in almost 14 countries on the continent. It is amongst the top competitors in all those countries but misses out on the first spot either by a whisker or by a huge margin every single time. That said, the company has managed to make space for itself in all the markets in Africa. It has huge investments in the continent and is not going to give up in any of those countries, instead it is planning to expand further into new countries.

Kenya is the country where Airtel is doing better than most. It is second to the huge Safaricom, which literally owns the entire market. Airtel is the second largest telecom partner in Kenya and has around 10.4 million subscribers compared to others below it which. However, it is nowhere near Safaricom. Safaricom has around 29.9 million subscribers which are almost three-times the Airtel’s subscribers.

There is practically no competition for Safaricom in Kenya. They provide a network to almost 30 million people out of the 46 million in Kenya. The government has also tried to break its operations to increase the competition but that is a plan that is yet to come into the picture. The company practices near-monopoly kind of business when it comes to telecom.

In that case, Airtel has now partnered with the third best telecom partner in Kenya; Telkom. This partnership is in order to give Safaricom a tough fight and increase the operations in the country. The merger is only awaiting regulatory confirmation as it was going to happen a year ago but Airtel pulled out of the deal. That said, the deal has finally happened and the merger has taken place. Airtel-Telkom, as they are supposed to be known from now on, will operate separately but will expand the reach of their network together. This will mean that the expenses will be less and the market will increase.

Safaricom, however, did not feel threatened by this merger as their CEO Bob Collymore was happy about it. He said that the merger will only increase the competition. This is because even after the merger, Airtel-Telkom will have a total of 14.5 million subscribers which is half as that of Safaricom. This is why the company is not worried about the merger as of now.

Telkom Kenya is co-owned by the Kenyan Government and also has a real estate business. However, that is not included in the deal and only 60% of the company which is not owned by the government will be privy to the merger.

-Unmesh Phule

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