IBM to manage Airtel's IT infrastructure in Africa

Leading telecom operator in world, Airtel recently announced the selection of IBM to manage the computing technology and services that power Airtel’s mobile communications network spanning 16 African countries.

On the finalisation of the agreement, IBM will deploy and manage state-of-the-art information technology (IT) infrastructure and applications to support Airtel’s goal of taking 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 that allows users to access and share information simply by talking over the existing telephone network, which is particularly compelling for populations with little or no literacy, visual impairments, or lack access to computers.

Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman and Managing Director, Bharti Airtel, said:  “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.  We are delighted to extend our successful relationship with IBM in South Asia to Africa.  This transformational business delivery model, which will be a first in Africa’s telecom industry, will bring enhanced efficiencies to our operations and help us deliver world-class mobile services to our customers.”

Airtel believes that its employees in the IT domain will now get exposure to global best practices and latest technologies with IBM, apart from reflecting its commitment to the growth of Africa’s ICT sector and contributes towards bridging the digital divide on the continent.

Samuel J Palmisano, Chairman, President and chief executive officer, IBM, said:  “We see our strategic relationship with Bharti Airtel as a powerful example of building a smarter planet.  We 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 – in effect, treating all of Africa as a system of systems – 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.”

The strategic partnership will enable Bharti Airtel to scale its network and systems to more than 100 million African customers spread across Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

While, IBM will consolidate 16 different IT environments across Airtel’s African operations into an integrated IT system and will oversee the management of all of the applications, data center operations, servers, storage and desktop services.