Airtel is a telecommunications company that was born in India in 1995. It is currently based in New Delhi and has already expanded its business operations to 20 countries in both Africa and Asia. It provides a wide range of services for mobile, broadband, and voice subscribers, depending on what the country needs. With more than 365 million subscribers, Airtel has become the largest mobile network in India and the third largest operator in the world.
From the beautiful land of India to other equally amazing countries, Airtel has definitely grown as one of the most successful companies in the world. It has provided so many working opportunities to people, as well as, services that are needed by the consumers. The Airtel saga lives on as the business thrives on the Nigerian market, bringing outstanding mobile services to the subscribers.
How Everything Started in Nigeria
Airtel arrived in Nigeria in 2000, bringing the brand Airtel Nigeria. Three state governments and group of private and institutional investors established the company. But before it became Airtel Nigeria, the mobile network operator carried the name Celtel Nigeria. It was only until 2008 when the former name was changed to Airtel Nigeria after the Airtel Group acquired the Celtel International.
But more than just the rebranding event, Airtel Nigeria started to make history in 2001 when it became the first company to launch GSM services in the country. Aside from that, it made more achievements that shape its reputation as a trusted mobile service provider despite the high competition among other companies in the industry. Airtel Nigeria is the first company that introduced and provided the following services:
- free monthly SMS and monthly airtime bonus
- toll-free, 24-hour customer care line at 111 and emergency service line (Celtel 199)
- mobile services in all six geographical zones in Nigeria
- N500 recharge card
At the present time, Airtel Nigeria serves more than 14,000 local communities and 1,500 towns in all six zones of Nigeria. And in the recent statistical report from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Airtel Nigeria is the third largest mobile operator with more than 37 million subscribers. MTN has taken the first spot with over 61 million subscribers, while the second rank goes to Globacom with, at least, 37 million subscribers.
Airtel Nigeria and its Downturns
As the journey continues, Airtel Nigeria has also its share of downturns that significantly challenge the company. In 2012, the company faced a legal dispute with a rival operator, Econet Wireless. The latter alleged that its market shares with Airtel Nigeria were improperly canceled, causing Econet to pursue legal proceedings. But according to The Hindu Business Line, the battle between the two companies has already been settled sometime in November 2016. However, Airtel Nigeria did not divulge any details related to its settlement deals.
From a settlement to a case of violating customer’s rights to privacy, Airtel Nigeria had to pay a fine of ₦5 million worth of damages to the plaintiff who was disturbed by the unsolicited messages sent by the company. Presiding Justice Jude Okeke of a Federal High Court in Maitama imposed the fine almost a year after the case was filed. Okeke based his judgment on the following circumstance:
“The defendant, who was afforded the opportunity, failed to file a statement of defence contradicting the plaintiff’s statement of claim, or lead evidence in [a] challenge to the claims; it means he has admitted the facts,” said Okeke in the report of Premium Times. “Unless the court does not believe in the evidence or sees any reason in contrary in law, it reserves a duty to act on such.”
Business Goes On for Airtel Nigeria
Despite the issues and controversies that Airtel Nigeria has faced over the years, the mobile network provider remains to perform well in the industry. It has made several partnerships to enhance the services for the consumers and has conducted social responsibility projects for the less fortunate Nigerians.
Airtel Nigeria offers a wide range of services for both personal and business purposes. It has a lot of affordable Voice & Text bundles, internet packages, as well as, data plans for Android, iPhone, and laptop users. In addition to those services, Airtel Nigeria has its own smart store where consumers can buy all kinds of gadgets. It displays many brands of smartphones, tablets, computers, laptops, digital products, office products, and accessories for the gadgets. It even accepts trade-ins.
But behind Airtel Nigeria’s good business is the Airtel Foundation, which supports the National Action Committee Against AIDS (NACA) and sponsors community projects for the localities across Nigeria.