Indian telecom tycoon Sunil Bharti Mittal is hoping to make it third time lucky as he seeks to gain a presence in Africa, one of the world's least developed cellphone markets. After two failed attempts to tie up with MTN, the founder-chairperson of cellular giant Bharti Airtel announced this week a $10,7-billion bid to buy the African unit of Kuwait's Zain telecom group. The takeover would be one of India's biggest cross-border deals and give Bharti a significant foothold in the continent's cellular market where just 36 out of every 100 people own a cellphone. Step in right direction That compares with Europe and other developed markets where there are more cellphones than people, while in India cellphone use stands at about 44 connections per 100 people. "Africa is under-penetrated, it has less competition [than the Indian market]. It is a step in the right direction" for Bharti, said Romal Shetty, senior telecom analyst at international consultancy KPMG. Bharti, India's largest celllphone firm which is 32% owned by Singapore Telecom, and Zain, Kuwait's biggest phone company, said on Monday they had agreed to hold exclusive talks until March 25 to conclude a deal. Mohamed Al Kharafi, head of the Kharafi Group, one of Zain's key shareholders, told India's Economic Times newspaper the Zain board is "very happy with the price". Bharti, which already has 125-million subscribers, would get 42-million of Zain's 65-million subscribers in 15 African countries from Burkina Faso to Zambia. But critics note that Africa represents just 15% of Zain's profits.