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Airtel, IBM “fall out” in Sierra Leone

RVS Bhullar, Managing Director of Airtel Sierra Leome

In the last one week, usually reliable sources in Freetown and in New Delhi have been intimating Politico that the Indian mobile phone operator, Airtel has terminated the services of IBM in running their Call Centre and I.T. departments in Sierra Leone.

The sources say that an Indian company, STANCO, run mainly by Nigerians, have had the services outsourced to them.

One of the sources says it is highly likely that the marketing department will soon follow.

Some two years ago the Call Centre and the IT departments were outsourced to IBM.

Speaking to Politico Airtel spokesperson, June Rose Johnson said the Call Center had indeed been outsourced to STANCO. She however denied that the IT department had also been taken over or that there were plans for the marketing department to also go the same way.

She insisted that it was IBM that had outsourced STANCO, something denied by several other contacts we spoke to on the matter (among them an IBM source) but who wish to remain anonymous. They say Airtel terminated the contract.

Miss Johnson said that STANCO were “a bigger and better company” than IBM, insisting that it was IBM who did the outsourcing.

Asked why and whether it was normal that IBM would outsource when they were also mere service providers contracted by Airtel, Miss Johnson said that depended on the nature of the contract which she said she knew nothing about.

It is not immediately clear whether the latest move is as a result of any disagreement.

Bharti Airtel bought over Zain from a Middle Eastern company and renamed it. Zain had also bought the company known as Celtel which was owned by the Sudanese mobile phone entrepreneur billionaire, Mo Ibrahim.

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