Warid, Airtel Uganda Deal Causes Anxiety

The Bharti Airtel takeover of Warid Telecom last week, has caused a mixed reaction from Warid customers.Some are worried about maintaining their numbers and also missing out on popular products they had been enjoying on the Warid network.

However, Fred Otunnu, the Head of Communications at the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) says that customers should not have any fears because the regulator would ensure that customers’ interests are taken care of.

“Customers should not worry and that (what will happen to Warid Telecom subscribers) should not be an issue. The regulator will make sure that customers’ are protected,” Otunnu said.

He told the East African Business Week in an interview that UCC was waiting to look at the technical, finance and business models of the two companies before granting a transfer of license.

“The law provides for up to 45 days within which we should have evaluated the business models of the two companies before we can grant a transfer of license.”

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Speaking on the agreement, Manoj Kohli, MD and CEO (International),Bharti Airtel said, “We are delighted at this agreement with Warid, which also happens to be the first in-market acquisition in Bharti Airtel’s history.We believe this market consolidation offers great synergies by bringing together the best of Airtel and Warid to better serve customers in Uganda and drive forward our vision of offering affordable best in-class services in Africa.This development will translate to a healthier telecom sector in Uganda which will be ready to invest and grow in wireless broadband and m-Commerce services”.

Douglas Mazune, a sports journalist said, “Now that Warid has sold us (its subscribers) to Airtel, I wonder how the takeover will affect us,”he said, adding “I have my functional Uganda Telecom (UTL) line to fall back to. I wouldn’t be surprised if other networks like MTN and UTL benefit instead.”

He also adds that, “Given Warid’s market penetration approach (Pricing via Pakalast) it is most likely to have the highest number of customers that subscribe to more than one network. Warid customers are mostly price-sensitive and not loyal to the brand.”

VIA:  East African Business Week