France’s largest telecom group Orange is considering entering the South African and Nigerian markets, according to its CEO.
“It could make sense to be in economies such as Nigeria and South Africa,” Orange’s CEO Stephane Richard, says, according to a report by Reuters. “If one considers there are things to do, the time frame I am considering is rather a few months than a few years,” he continues.
Richard declined to comment when asked about a possible interest in taking a stake in MTN. Orange and MTN Group have worked together to launch an African mobile payment company, Mowali. Orange has 208 million subscribers, while MTN has 257 million subscribers.
They are also partners in a consortium that will build Africa’s largest undersea internet cable.
The undersea cable system, 2Africa, is expected to go live in 2023/2024, delivering more than the total combined capacity of all subsea cables serving Africa today, with a design capacity of up to 180Tbps on key parts of the system.
Orange’s largest stakeholder is currently the French government. The telecom already operates in around 18 African countries, including Botswana and the DRC. Estimates rate that one in ten mobile African users are Orange customers. Orange had recently considered buying a mobile license in Ethiopia, now that the country’s government has opened up its telecom space to international bodies.
Business Insider reports that earlier this year, the company merged all its businesses in its fastest-growing market (African and the Middle-East) to create a single entity. Orange reportedly plans to list this new entity on international bourses.
South Africa’s lack of available spectrum has been a problem for new entrants into the market. 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.