January 18, 2012 / 11:53 AM / 8 years ago

Bharti Zambia arm sees 24 pct customer growth in '12

A Bharti Airtel advertisement in Indian-administered Jammu, April 28, 2010. REUTERS/Mukesh Gupta (INDIAN-ADMINISTERED KASHMIR)

LUSAKA (Reuters) - Bharti Airtel’s Zambian unit plans to increase its subscriber base by nearly a quarter this year after similar growth in 2011, its managing director said on Wednesday, as it taps growing demand for data services.

Bharti, on an aggressive push to win market share in Africa from entrenched players such as South Africa’s MTN Group and Kenya’s Safaricom, is spending $250 million on network upgrades and expansion in Zambia, Fayaz King said.

Airtel Zambia on Tuesday launched a high-speed 3.75G network, to boost data penetration that is still under 7 percent in the southern African country.

“With these modern services we see a situation where we will grow and see another 1 million customers by the end of this year,” King said, without saying how much the company plans to invest in the coming financial year, which starts in April.

Airtel Zambia’s subscribers totalled 4.2 million in December, representing an increase of about 24 percent in 2011, he said.

Airtel Zambia has the largest subscriber base in Zambia followed by MTN, with 2.7 million and Zamtel, majority owned by Libya’s LAP Green Networks with 1 million customers.

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