Bharti Airtel Seeks More Favorable Taxes to Lower Africa Costs

Bharti Airtel Seeks More Favorable Taxes to Lower Africa Costs

By Chris Spillane | From Bloomberg News

Bharti Airtel Ltd., India’s biggest wireless carrier, is seeking more favorable regulatory and taxation regimes in its African markets to lower the cost of doing business on the continent.

The company wants governments to consult with telecommunications operators before raising taxes from the industry to increase their budgets, Airtel Africa Chief Executive Officer Christian de Faria said in an interview on Monday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

“Regulators have to understand our limitations: the cost to do business in Africa,” de Faria said, declining to name specific countries. “They have to be more receptive to our ideas and have to be more understanding about our limitations when it comes to development of the very important piece of changing life.”

Bharti Airtel, controlled by billionaire Chairman Sunil Mittal, has 75 million subscribers in 17 African countries as it seeks to take advantage of the replacement of fixed-line networks with smartphones. The carrier was ordered to halt free airtime promotions in Zambia in November and has been fined by Nigerian regulators for failing to meet quality service standards.

“We need to work together with the regulator and government to understand that there is a conducive environment legally to enable us to do our work,” de Faria said. Consumers “have no clue what is behind the infrastructure, the investment, the whole ecosystem,” he said. “Governments and regulators have to bear this in mind when certain decisions or actions are taken.”