Dismantling Zain, or, Goodwill Shmoodwill

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Zain's presence across the African continent will be gradually erased over the coming year, as its new owner, Bharti Airtel, scraps the brand and replaces it with its own. (pic by Trevor Snapp/Bloomberg)

Zain, we hardly knew ye. Nigeria's Next

, following the $12 billion acquisition of the Kuwaiti operator's African units.

Given that Nigeria is the jewel in the crown of Bharti's newly acquired African assets, it is safe to assume that this will happen all over the continent. And as Next is quick to point out, this isn't the first name change for the country's oldest mobile network:

"The company started as Econet Wireless Nigeria (2001); Vodacom Nigeria (2004); and the same year to V-Mobile Nigeria; Celtel Nigeria (2006); to Zain Nigeria (2008) and now Bharti Airtel Nigeria."

Aside from being a perfect measure of the rapid evolution and change that took place in the mobile sector in the last decade, this also represents a whole bunch of wasted money.

It was only in August 2008 that Zain itself rebranded all these networks, investing huge sums getting rid of their old brand, CelTel, and building a new one across the continent. Mobile networks are extremely brand-heavy companies, with logos, billboards, storefronts and merchandise penetrating deep into every corner of a country. Changing all of that, and the associated campaigns etc, is far from cheap.

Worth noting here is that

that Bharti paid for Zain. Goodwill - the intangible factors that make a company worth more than its physical assets - consists mainly of things like your brand, customer relationships and public awareness. Bharti is now dismantling the Zain brand and replacing it with another one that is foreign to Africa, again at considerable cost.