France Telecom to invest billions in Africa and Middle East

France Telecom CEO, Stephane Richard (photo credit: AFP JEAN-PIERRE MULLER/AFP/Getty Images)

France Telecom has announced plans to invest as much as 7 billion Euros ($9.3 billion) in deals across Africa and Middle East in the next five years.

According to, France Telecom CEO, Stephane Richard, confirmed in an interview that the company was interested in doubling its revenue from emerging markets by investing in the MEA region.

He said developing markets currently account for 3.3 billion euros of France Telecom’s revenue, representing about 7% of total annual sales of around 46 billion euros.

France Telecom’s interest in emerging markets follows some of the world’s largest mobile operators who have invested in Africa, in search of growth opportunities. India’s Bharti Airtel’s acquisition of Kuwaiti operator Zain’s assets in 15 African countries, for $9 billion, is an encouraging deal for foreign operators.

“A doubling of activity in five years supposes that we will find 2 billion euros more in revenue, through new licenses or asset acquisitions, with another billion euros coming from internal growth by the end of the period”, said Richard.

“We have about five or six billion euros, or even seven billion euros that could be invested”, he added, saying that the desired growth would come from purchase of licenses or assets, possibly in multiple countries.

France Telecom has operations in Cameroon, Senegal and Niger, however it is interested in expanding further into Western Africa, to have a “regional cluster”.

According to Informa Telecoms & Media analysts, Africa has a mobile penetration of less than 45% overall, signifying important growth opportunities for major telcos worldwide.