Airtel’s Acquisition of Ugandan Operator Warid Causes Anxiety Among Customers


Bharti Airtel acquisition Warid Telecom has put Warid customers on edge as some are concerned that they won’t be able to maintain their numbers. The deal which is Airtel’s first in-market acquisitin in history, has seen customers suggest that they may end up missing out on popular products currently offered on the Warid network. Head of Communications at the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), Fred Otunnu has gone out to reassure customers saying that the regulator will safeguard their interests. Before granting any two companies a transfer of license, the regulator examines the technical, finance and business models of the companies. The process can take up to 45 days according to the law in Uganda.

The move is part of Airtel’s strategy to become the second largest mobile operator in Uganda with 39% of the market share. This places Airtel right behind MTN with a combined customer base of 7.4 million.  Bharti Airtel currently holds the position of 4th largest telecom operator globally. The company has yet to record profits in 15 African countries where it is acquired money-losing operations for $9 billion.

Experts note that Warid telecom initiated the price wars in 2011. The result was voice calls prices dropping to Ush3 per second. Warid never recovered from this campaign and with a market that was already saturated, the company was set for acquisition. Market analysts are speculating on the reactions that will be seen from other telecom companies. The merger has seen some analysts predict a fresh round of price wars with MTN defending its market share.

From East African Business Weekly