FILE PHOTO: A man stands next to the wall of a grocery shop painted with an advertisement for Bharti Airtel in Kochi

INTERNATIONAL – India’s Bharti Airtel on Friday said Airtel Networks Kenya, has agreed to merge with Telkom Kenya, the East African nation’s smallest telecom operator.

Last month, three industry sources had told Reuters that Bharti Airtel was in talks to buy Telkom Kenya, to create a stronger challenger to market leader Safaricom.

The companies will combine their respective mobile, enterprise and carrier services businesses in Kenya to operate as Airtel-Telkom, Airtel said, without revealing further details.

Recently, the government of Tanzania and Bharti Airtel Limited, an Indian global telecommunications services company based in New Delhi, India, on Tuesday signed an agreement including raising the East African nation's shareholding in the mobile phone operator to 49 percent from 40 percent. 

A statement issued by the Directorate of Presidential Communication at State House in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam said the agreement was signed between Tanzania's Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Palamagamba Kabudi and Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Mittal and witnessed by President John Magufuli.