Zain set to rebrand to Airtel

Friday November 12 2010



By Walter Wafula


Mobile operator Zain Uganda will adopt Bharti Airtel as its new face of business on November 23, 2010 Daily Monitor has learnt. The move is part of the wider effort aimed at dusting off the Zain brand off the African market following a change in company ownership in June.

The soon-to-be-changed brand is valued at about Shs4.5 trillion ($2 billion ). This value was calculated by Brandfinance Global 500, an independent brand valuation report, in 2009.

14 other markets
Zain’s rebranding is expected to affect 14 other markets in Africa to align them with Bharti Airtel’s Asian operations. This will be the third time that Zain which started as MTC in Kuwait adopts a new name under new owners. Before it became Zain, the company traded as Celtel and was owned by philanthropist Ibrahim Mo.

Daily Monitor could not immediately establish how much it will cost Zain Uganda to rebrand but in 2008, Celtel spent $40 million (Shs90 billion) to become Zain in Kenya, according to the Daily Nation.
Beneficiaries of the budget include; media firms, advertising and marketing agencies, as well as metal fabricators.

The change in the brand follows the acquisition of Zain’s operations in Africa by India’s Bharti Airtel (BA) in June this year in a $10.7 billion deal. Airtel is largely owned by Mr Sunil Bharti Mittal, who doubles as its chairman and founder.


The acquisition of Zain gave Airtel a footprint in 15 countries on the continent including; Kenya, Madagascar, Zambia and Nigeria.
Mr David Case, the chief executive officer of Moringa Ogilvy part of Ogilvy Africa which will champion the Airtel brand on the continent said the rebranding is aimed at “revolutionising” the telecommunications industry in Uganda.

$100m investment
In July this year, Bharti Airtel’s CEO Manoj Kohli announced that the firm will invest up to $100 million (Shs227 billion) in the next 18 months. “We will drive affordability and bring the costs further down to respond to the needs of the market. We also expect to bring down the cost of handsets to lift the barrier of connectivity,” he said.
The rebranding comes at a time when Uganda’s telecoms; MTN, Warid, Orange and Uganda Telecom are battling to retain and increase their customer bases through various packages.