France’s Orange Group, one of the largest telecom companies in Africa, has reportedly set its sights on a possible expansion into Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria.
This is according to a statement issued by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), where it is detailed that Orange sent a six-person team from its Middle East and Africa division led by non-executive Victoria Adefala to scout the Nigerian market for expansion opportunities.
Orange would be entering a highly competitive telecom market in Nigeria, with four other operators already vying for power, with MTN Nigeria holding the largest market share, followed by Globacom, Airtel, and finally 9Mobile.
“We are here to ensure steady investment for the long term. We also want to support the vision of the [NCC] in driving broadband penetration for a robust digital economy and leverage on local content development initiatives,” said Adefala in the statement, seen by Developing Telecoms.
Orange is Africa’s second-largest telecom company behind MTN Group in terms of revenues and sheer user base size. The company has over 140-million connections across the 17 African markets it is present, as well as a single Middle East presence in Jordan.
Nigeria is conspicuously missing from its portfolio of countries. Adefala highlighted that Orange considers the country a “missing piece”, noting its potential.
“The large market potentials buoyed by the huge population, impressive Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figure, proximity to our operations in the neighbouring African countries, as well as the appreciable friendly operating environment are great motivators for our expansion plan into the Nigerian telecom market,” she noted.
NCC CEO Umar Danbatta reportedly assured Orange’s scout team that the company had the “full support” of the Federal Government to enter the market. This support would be “showcased” in several government initiatives, Danbatta said.
Orange told Developing Telecoms that, while no specific project is on the table just yet, the telecom group would continue to study any opportunity that could create value for the Group and for the Nigerian market.