Abuja: Bhrati Airtel, India's leading telecommunications company, now has 50 million mobile customer in Africa just 17 months after making a foray into the continent still fledgling in cellphone usage.

The company, that already operates in 19 countries across Asia and Africa, celebrated this significant milestone on T when the 50 millionth customer in Africa got itself registered with it.

Airtel achieved this milestone within just 17 months of acquiring Zain's mobile operations in 16 African countries and added 14 million new mobile customers during this period.

"This milestone demonstrates our continued dedication and commitment to Africa," said Manoj Kohli, CEO (International) and Joint Managing Director, Bharti Airtel Limited in Nairobi the capital of Kenya.

"We would like to thank our customers for reposing their faith in brand Airtel and we are committed to serving them with world-class services.
"I would also like to thank the governments and regulators for their support and would like to reiterate that we share their vision of bridging the digital divide with affordable telecom services," he added.

In 2010, Bharti Airtel announced the investment of USD 600 million in Nigeria's mobile market alone following its take-over of the oil rich African country's holdings of Kuwaiti-based Zain after closing a USD 10.7 billion deal.

Airtel has also invested in rural telephony and introduced a corporate social responsibility programme that includes setting up of schools that offers free quality education to underprivileged children in rural communities.