Orange, France’s telecom giant, may launch in South Africa ‘within months’

Business Insider SA
(Photo: Orange)
  • Orange's CEO says the company is considering an entry into the SA market within months.
  • Orange is already present in 18 African markets, including Botswana.
  • Africa and the Middle East are Orange's fastest-growing region.
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France’s largest telecom group, Orange, is considering entering South Africa, its CEO told Los Echos business newspaper.

“It could make sense to be in economies such as Nigeria and South Africa,” Stephane Richard said, according to a Reuters report. “If one considers there are things to do, the time frame I am considering is rather a few months than a few years.”

Richard was asked whether Orange would consider taking a stake in MTN, but declined to answer. Orange and MTN Group have worked together to launch a African mobile payment company, Mowali. They are also partners in a consortium that will build Africa's largest undersea internet cable.

The French government is the largest stakeholder in Orange, which  operates in 18 African countries, including Botswana and the DRC, and estimates that one in ten mobile African users are Orange customers. Orange recently expressed interest in buying a mobile licence in Ethiopia, with MTN also in the running.

The Middle East and Africa is the company’s fastest-growing market, generating annual sales of about 5 billion euros (R97 billion).

Earlier this year, it merged all its businesses in the two regions to create a single entity. Orange reportedly plans to list the entity on international bourses.

Orange has 208 million subscribers, while MTN has 257 million subscribers. 

South Africa's lack of available spectrum has been a problem for new entrants. Spectrum is limited because television broadcasting is still hogging frequencies – because a move from the analogue TV system to digital terrestrial television has been delayed for half a decade. 

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