IBM Chairman and CEO Samuel J. Palmisano (right) and Bharti Airtel Chairman and Managing Director Sunil Bharti Mittal at a past function

Bharti Airtel (“Airtel”) and IBM have jointly announced a decade long agreement to provide comprehensive IT solutions to Airtel’s employees across 16 African countries. IBM will provide a standard operating environment, ‘help desk’ and ‘desk side’ support to enhance employee efficiency and convenience.

In terms of the new agreement, IBM will provide comprehensive end user services to Airtel employees across Africa, in French and English. It will also include an enhanced information enterprise security solution that further strengthens Airtel’s commitment to customer data privacy.

IBM will also be responsible for the implementation and maintenance of a standard operating environment, using state of the art platforms, tools and management processes.

Airtel and IBM’s relationship began in 2004 when South Asia’s leading mobile communications provider selected IBM to run IT and applications for its entire network in India. Since then, Airtel has seen explosive growth from six million customers to more than 225 million today. Airtel currently has over 44 million customers across 16 African operations and is targeting 100 million by 2015.

The agreement with Airtel highlights IBM’s continued geographic expansion initiative to strategically increase its presence in key growth markets and support its global growth strategy. IBM is ramping up its investment in Africa and has a direct presence in over 20 African countries including South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia. In recent weeks, the company has announced its expansion into both Senegal and Tanzania.

The new agreement was signed in the first quarter of 2011.