Bharti Airtel on Friday said it had tied up with technology major IBM for managing its computing technology and services for its African operations spanning 16 countries. The strategic partnership would enable Bharti Airtel to scale up its network and systems to cater to more than 10-crore African customers by 2012.
According to the agreement, IBM will deploy and manage IT infrastructure and applications to support Bharti Airtel's goal of bringing affordable and innovative mobile services to remote locations in Africa. 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. Notably, Bharti Airtel had acquired Zain's telecom African business for $10.7 billion earlier this year.
“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… This transformational business delivery model, which will be a first in the Africa's telecom industry, will bring enhanced efficiencies to our operations and help us deliver world-class mobile services to our customers,” Bharti Airtel Chairman and Managing Director Sunil Mittal said in a statement.
According to Samuel J. Palmisano, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, IBM, “we (IBM and Bharti Airtel) have achieved great success together in India, and now we are bringing that model to Africa. By building a 21st century telecommunications infrastructure for the continent, we expect to help spark transformation not just in communications but across all sectors of society — empowering businesses, governments and individual citizens to connect, innovate and achieve economic growth.”
Under the planned agreement, IBM will consolidate 16 different IT environments (nations) 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. When the agreement becomes final,