KIGALI (Xinhua) – With the entry into Rwanda’s market four days ago, Airtel, the fifth telecom company in the world, has sparked enthusiasm of local subscribers. Given Airtel’s per minute billing of 20 Rwandan francs per minute on-net (Airtel to Airtel) and 60 francs (10 U. S. cents) off-net (Airtel to other networks), the new entrant has tightened its belt to outcompete MTN’s per-second billing and its off-net tariff of 60 francs per minute.

“I bought an Airtel sim-card because I wanted to compare its calling rates with other networks and their rates on international calls and I have so far found Airtel’s rates low compared with MTN and Tigo.

”Janet Mugisha, a businesswoman in Kigali, told Xinhua. Isaac Kamali, a proprietor of a internet cafe, said, “I will subscribe to all the three telecom companies so that I can utilize the network with lower rates.”

However, critiques believe that the perception that Airtel has lower rates has led to a quick rush the new company’s SIM card packages and that it is likely to affect the company’s long term growth as subscribers still envisage the network’s call to be cheaper.

One of Airtel’s strategies is to pay back the clients’ money spent on the purchase through airtime in six months and provide cheap recharge cards of up to 100 francs, compared with Tigo’s 300 francs and MTN’s 500 francs. Airtel has promised to initially offer 250 jobs, with hopes of rising up to 500 jobs in the next few months, surpassing MTN’s 173 jobs, the top leading employer in the local telecom sector. Other subscribers are of a skeptical view that Airtel lowered its rates as a strategy to attract more customers and eventually raise the rates after securing a big turnover of profits.(Xinhua)

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