Airtel hires IBM, Tech Mahindra for Africa customer care servivces

An agreement is expected to be finalised soon, Bharti Airtel said in a statement, declining to give financial details on the deal. As per the agreement, Bharti Airtel -- which owns and operates the "Zain" brand in 16 countries across Africa -- will outsource core customer services to these three firms, including call centre and back office processes.

"The outsourcing of customer service operations will play a key role in making Bharti Airtel competitive in Africa as it focuses on making mobile communications affordable," it added.

The widespread adoption of the BPO model by Bharti Airtel across its operations in Africa will have tangible benefits for development of the sector in each country and will create additional job opportunities and help develop local talent, the statement added.

Currently, over 4,000 people have been engaged by Bharti Airtel for customer service operations in Africa. Going forward, the number of people employed for Bharti Airtel's customer service functions will increase as the Indian telecom major expands its network and customer base.

The mobile telecommunications operator currently has over 40 million customers in Africa and is targeting a subscriber base of 100 million by 2013.

"The BPO model has significant benefits for our customers, the countries in which we operate and their economies. Partnering with organisations on such a massive scale will galvanise the BPO sector in Africa and be a catalyst for growth in the sector," Bharti Airtel CEO (International) and Joint Managing Director Manoj Kohli said.

This is the second major partnership announced by Bharti Airtel in the African subcontinent. In September this year, Bharti selected IBM to build and manage IT systems to power its mobile communications network across 16 African countries.

According to a Deloitte report, less than 40 per cent of Africans have access to a mobile phone. However, demand is growing at the average rate of 25 per cent annually and a 10 per cent rise in mobile penetration could increase the gross domestic product of developing markets by 1.2 per cent.

The three firms selected by Bharti Airtel collectively employ over 90,000 people for BPO services in more than 100 countries. In Africa, 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.

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