Zain Re-brands again, Now Airtel.

Two years after it rebranded and changed its name to Zain, Nigeria’s second largest GSM operator has announced the change of its brand name from Zain to Airtel. The rebranding of the telecommunication firm was formally performed in Abuja yesterday by President Goodluck Jonathan.

The rebranding of Zain became possible following the acquisition of Zain Africa by an Indian telecommunication firm, Bharti Airtel about six months ago at the cost of $10.6 billion.

This brought to six times the GSM operator will be changing its brand name. Zain, which will be changing its name in 16 African countries, launched its service in Nigeria in 2001 as Econet. It later changed its name to Vodacom which lasted for about one year before it rebranded and changed to Vmobile in 2003.

In 2006, it changed its name to Celtel, then to Zain from where it further metamorphosed to Airtel following the successful acquisition of Zain Nigeria in June 2010. But the chairman of Airtel Nigeria, Chief Oba Otudeko said the new name, Airtel would be the final bus stop.

At the launch yesterday, President Jonathan urged the telecommunication firm to deploy its services across every segment of the country, saying, “Rural telephony is still a relatively untapped market which promises huge return on investments.

“The second area of mutual desire is Bharti Airtel’s commitment to increasing job opportunities for our people. It is my hope that the company would substantially increase its investments and expand its operations in the country so that it could assist to reduce the unemployment rate, particularly among our youth,” Jonathan said.

Represented by the minister of Information and Communications, Prof Dora Akunyili, the president assured the GSM operator that the federal government would provide the enabling environment to enable the firm operate and welcome other investors. Jonathan said the federal government had started reviewing the telecommunication policy, which according to him, would provide a robust policy support for the telecommunication industry in the next five years.

Jonathan also told the GSM operator that government would achieve sustainable reform in the power sector to achieve stable power supply in the country.

“As the fifth largest telecom operator in the world with over 180 million customers on its network, I have no doubt that your experience and expertise would be of immense advantage to our country.

“Government on its part would continue to bequeath a fair and transparent telecom regulatory regime through the Nigerian Communications Commission, which has secured the confidence of investors across the globe,” the president said.

He advised the GSM service provider to go beyond providing voice services, saying “broadband internet services are redefining the ways people communicate, by creating a convergence in the provision of voice, data and video services.”

The chairman, Bharti Airtel Group, Mr Suneil Mital said his firm would offer quality services to his customers. Mital, who is the 87th richest man in the world, promised that his company would deploy telecommunication services to the rural communities, unserved and underserved areas in Nigeria, adding that it would be done without compromising quality.

The managing director of the company, Mr Rajan Swaroop, said with the launch of Airtel, Nigeria would witness the kind of service it never had before.

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