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October 14, 1997


This is it!

Bharti Global wins licence to build and
operate the Seychelles' telecom network.

Bharti Global, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bharti Enterprises, has won the licence to operate as a national telecom operator in the Seychelles.

Bharti is the first Indian company to win a licence to set up, operate and manage a comprehensive telecom network outside India.

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With an investment of $25 million, the Seychelles project is being partnered by Bharti Global (51 per cent), Jiwanjee Currimjee of Mauritius (30 per cent), non-resident Indian Raza Bilgrami (5-7 per cent) and a local Seychelles company (10 per cent). The licence is in the name of Bharti Global but will soon be transferred to Telecom Seychelles Limited, the joint-venture company.

The services will be offered through the already established brand name of Bharti Enterprises - Airtel. An initial investment of $15 million is planned. The project financing will also have a debt component of $15 million in the form of vendor financing from Ericsson which is currently being negotiated.

Also under negotiation is the purchase of the network and equipment from Ericsson.

The telecom market in the Seychelles is pegged at $32 million per year. Cable and Wireless, the present monopoly operator on the Islands, rakes in a profit of $10 million per annum out of these revenues. About $17 million in revenues is from international calls while local services yield another $10 million and other value-added services account for the rest.

The local population is estimated at 80,000 with a drifting tourist population of 200,000 every year. The market requirement is for about 35,000 fixed lines and 30,000 cellular lines of which 18,000 and 2,000 are already established.

The licence covers comprehensive telecom services including basic telephony, GSM cellular services, long distance and international telecom services and a variety of value-added services.

Under the terms of the licence, the GSM network covering the main islands of Mahe, Praslin and La Diuge will be operational by March 1998. The international gateway and earth station will be installed by this time to capture international traffic.

Initial deployment will be through access and backbone networks. WLL on GSM platform will be predominantly used to provide basic services since land lines are more difficult to establish due to topographic constraints.

Bharti Global has already bid for nationwide GSM licence in Botswana in alliance with TCIL-India and Jiwanjee Currimjee from Mauritius. The decision to award this licence is expected by the end of 1997.

Bharti Global is also making serious efforts in a number of African countries to secure licences to operate telecom services both in basic and cellular telephony. To assist forays into these markets, Bharti Global will soon be setting up offices in London and Mauritius.

- Compiled from the Indian media

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