Telecom major Bharti Airtel on Friday said it has selected global technology giant IBM to manage computing technology and services for its African business.
The company has selected IBM to manage the computing technology and services that power Bharti Airtel's mobile communications network spanning 16 African countries, Bharti said in a statement.
The strategic partnership will enable the telecom operator to scale up its network and systems to cater to more than 100 million African customers by 2012, it added.
"There are huge opportunities throughout Africa to transform how people communicate and how communities interact.
Delivering on that opportunity through affordable mobile communications for everyone is our focus," Bharti Airtel Chairman and MD Sunil Bharti Mittal said.
Under the 10-year planned agreement, IBM will consolidate 16 different IT environments across Bharti Airtel's African operations into an integrated IT system and will oversee the management of all of the applications, data centre operations, servers, storage and desktop services.
An agreement is expected to be finalised in the fourth quarter. However, the company did not disclose the deal size.
IBM is already handling the IT operations of Bharti Airtel in India.
"We are delighted to extend our successful relationship with IBM in South Asia to Africa. This transformational business delivery model, which will be a first in Africa's telecom industry, will bring enhanced efficiencies to our operations and help us deliver world-class mobile services to our customers," Mittal added.
IBM will deploy and manage information technology infrastructure and applications to support Bharti Airtel's goal of bringing affordable and innovative mobile services to remote locations in Africa. .
When the agreement becomes final, IBM will provide customer support applications for customer relationship management, billing and self-care that will empower customers and assist Bharti Airtel in delivering innovative and convenient 2G and 3G mobile services.
In addition, IBM will deploy advanced technologies created by IBM Research, including the spoken web -- a voice-enabled Internet technology that allows users to access and share information simply by talking over an existing telephone.
Bharti Airtel plans to replicate the success of its relationship with IBM in India by expanding its customer base to the extent that the entry barrier for African people to own a mobile device becomes lower.
IBM will also build automated internal systems for Bharti Airtel's business, which will result in enhanced efficiency and empowerment for employees through applications that deliver processes and data on a real time basis -- both on PCs and mobile devices.
Bharti Airtel has operations in Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
"We see our strategic relationship with Bharti Airtel as a powerful example of building a smarter planet. We have achieved great success together in India and now we are bringing that model to Africa," IBM President and Chief Executive Officer Samuel J Palmisano said.
The company had acquired Zain's African operations for USD 10.7 billion. On March 30, 2010, Bharti had entered the deal to acquire Zain Telecom's operations in 15 nations, excluding Sudan and Morocco. Zain had operations in 17 African countries.
This acquisition, besides giving Bharti its much-desired presence in Africa, made it the world's fifth largest wireless company with operations across 18 countries and a subscriber base of around 179 million.