India’s Bharti Airtel has announced that it will be exiting Uganda and 14 other countries within a year, with claims that the telecom operator is faced with poor performance across those markets.
The exit would pare the size of operations on the continent and could be completed within a year, Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said in an interview.
Faced with an escalating price war in its home market, India, Bharti is looking for ways to pare net debt equivalent to about $12 billion as of September.
The company has sold its Sierra Leone and Burkina Faso operations, as well as some of its tower businesses, as it reorganises assets it bought in 2010 in a $9 billion deal with Kuwait’s largest mobile-phone operator.
In Uganda, the company has struggled to beat its Africa rival MTN Uganda a battle that has failed to give the company an edge. It acquired Warid Telecom an Up and coming rival, hoping the addition numbers would give it an edge over MTN, however it didn’t work out that way. The company has never made a single profit in Uganda and its Airtel money is still struggling behind MTN Mobile Money.
The company will now be leaving Uganda and other African markets. Vodafone is said to be eyeing the company’s African assets.