Bharti Airtel, the 5th leading global telecommunications company with operations in 19 countries across Asia and Africa on Friday, November 19, 2010 officially launched their brand in Sierra Leone at the Miatta Conference Center, after taking over the operations of Zain.
Bharti Airtel pledged to pump $25 million to expand its operations in Sierra Leone in June this year and has also planned to bring its network of global partners to the country which could result in additional employment opportunity in the country.
The new operator has also partnered with world class telecommunications infrastructure suppliers such as Nokia, Siemens, Ericsson, Huawei among others to extend its network to rural areas which are at present disconnected from the world and ensure that Airtel has the best quality network in Sierra Leone and becomes the leader in Africa by 2015.
Like several other operators in the region, who are seeking new revenue streams in response to shrinking gains from voice services, the Africa-wide group said it was betting on data services and people in the rural areas for wider reach. The rebrand that took place simultaneously in 16 operations across Africa is aimed at aligning the Africa operations with its other global outfits and has also seen its Africa money transfer service Zap changed to Airtel money. Its one network that allows subscribers within its Africa operation to call at the same rates as in their home countries is now referred to as Airtel one network.
Unveiling the new brand in Freetown, RVS Bhullar, Managing Director of Airtel Sierra Leone made the promise of making mobile communications affordable for all. As a sign of its interest in recruiting more rural users, the company also announced an ultra low package that includes a Nokia 1280 mobile phone, a free Airtel SIM card and the equivalent value in free Airtel talk time and SMS text messages all at Le.149,000.00
He said that Airtel is driven by the vision of making mobile communications affordable and available for all.
"We’re driven by the vision of making mobile communications affordable and available for all. Access to mobile communications will give people the freedom to achieve their goals in life, transforming how people communicate and how communities interact. Delivering on that opportunity through affordable and available mobile communications for everyone is our focus and this new Airtel package effectively removes the cost of entry for even the poorest people in the most remote areas".
RVS Bhullar added that Airtel is committed to taking the network deeper into Africa and ensuring that their services touch everyone and bridge the digital divide in the continent.
"By effectively giving away a brand new Nokia mobile phone for free and providing a SIM card plus talk time and SMS credits, now everyone in Sierra Leone can unleash the opportunities that mobile communications provide. This Airtel package gives them the freedom to achieve their goals in life", he said.
Concerns have however been raised by a cross section of the public that the rebranding is likely to result in some brand identity clashes; Airtel has colours similar to a rival operator on the market.
But the Head of Corporate Affairs & Communications Airtel Sierra Leone, Kelvin E Kellie in an interview with this medium dispelled fear that Airtel’s corporate colours will clash with other telecommunications network providers in the country.
He said the red primary colour of the logo is meant to reflect the warmth and vibrancy of the African continent. These qualities are reflected in Airtel’s brand personality of being brave and bold, sensitive and empathetic. The new curved addition to the logo is a symbol which will help ensure instant recognition across our diverse international markets. He further stated that Airtel will work consciously to ensure that its corporate colors do not clash with any of its competitors on the market.