Mr Sunil Bharti Mittal, Bharti Enterprises Chairman’s $700 million investment pledge made to President Bola Tinubu yesterday in India marks another big leap for Airtel Nigeria’s commitment to the country, Mr Carl Cruz, CEO/Managing Director of the mobile business unit of the Indian conglomerate, has told Technology Times exclusively.
Following assurances provided by Nigeria’s President Tinubu, Indian investors on Wednesday pledged over $14 billion during the Nigeria-India Presidential Roundtable and Conference in New Delhi, India.
Out of this, Bharti Enterprises, owners of Airtel Nigeria, a major first-generation corporation in India with interests in telecoms, space communications, digital solutions, insurance, processed foods, real estate, and hospitality, is to invest an additional $700 million in Nigeria, “with work set to begin immediately”, Mr Mittal, Bharti Enterprises Chairman, told President Tinubu.
“You have unified the FX market. You have freed up crucial capital to upgrade your public infrastructure. Now, you have just dropped your prepared remarks and have spoken from your heart. Our investors have heard from a leader who is doing everything possible to attract capital to Nigeria for the benefit of Nigerians and our companies. Mr. President, we will bring these investments to Nigeria, and with your inspiring leadership style, we can only do more and more,” the Bharti Enterprises Chairman told the Nigerian President.
Airtel Nigeria CEO on road ahead in Africa’s largest economy
Speaking in an exclusive interview today at the Ikoyi, Lagos head office of the Nigerian mobile phone giant, the Airtel Nigeria CEO/Managing Director told Technology Times that the commitment by the Bharti Enterprises Chairman represents something big for the business.
“This is big for us. I think the whole Airtel Group is committed not only to Africa, but more importantly to Africa’s largest economy, and as well its largest democracy,” Mr Cruz says.
The mobile business known today as Airtel Nigeria, which launched service into the Nigerian market 22 years ago, will continue to receive investments of capital, time, effort and money to grow its stakes in the country, Mr Cruz says.
“And we will continue to do that. So we have invested a lot and we will remain invested in the future of this particular country,” he told Technology Times.
According to the Airtel Nigeria CEO/Managing Director, “Why is that? I think in my first statement I did say it’s the largest economy. It is. There are more than 200 million Nigerians in the country. Penetration of mobile phones, smartphones still on the low side. There are still countrymen who are not connected via telecoms. There are still countrymen who are unbanked, especially in the North. So both from a GSM side and from a mobile financial services side, there are huge opportunities. And this is something that we’ve been here for over two decades now, and we intend to be here much longer so that we can really participate in nation-building, and a different administration’s efforts in all of these.”
Editor’s Note: The report has been updated with additional information.