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Zain Steps Aside, Bharti Airtel Takes Over - What Is Really Happening To Zain?

by Teju

The telecommunication company Zain Nigeria has changed its name again. It is now Airtel as the Indian company Bharti Airtel becomes the majority shareholder of the company.

As you are probably aware, Zain has gone through so many name changes. The company started out as one of the first telecommunication companies licensed in Nigeria under the name Econet Wireless Nigeria Ltd. Then the company changed its name from Econet to Vodacom, then V-Mobile, then Celtel Nigeria, then Zain Nigeria, and now Airtel . . . five name change in nine years.

No other company in Nigeria have had as many name change in those few short years. Naturally, people are tempted to ask, "What is happening to Zain Nigeria?"

Someone suggested that the constant name change is a sign that the company is going through a series of crisis that could result in its collapse.

That sounds like it's close to the truth when taken at face value. But when you look at the fact that new investors are always anxious to invest in the company, it's a sign that there is a lot of money to be made there.

Yes, investors are jostling to buy the company, but that is because it's a company that is a money-spinner.

What is the fate of workers with the coming in of Bharti Airtel, the new Indian core investor?

Well, Indians are good businessmen. They are thrifty and hardworking. But they are also good at loading top management with their countrymen. Once one Indian guy enters a company, just get ready for a long list of Indian 'expatriates' that he will bring to the company.

They have a strong sense of family . . . and they trust only their kind.

So, Nigerians in Airtel, brace up for some tough challenges ahead. Someone may brand you as incompetent just to get an excuse to bring in some 'specialists' from India.

At the very least, there should be a ratio of expatriates to local Nigerian workers at staff and management levels. If you notice a sudden influx of expatriates into the business, stand up and be counted because they will 'steal' your jobs.

I wish the management and staff of Airtel the very best business experience possible in Nigeria. And to our new foreign investor, I say, "Enjoy Nigeria. We are a very hospitable race. You can't help but just love us".

Posted November 28 2010

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