France’s giant telecom firm — Orange, is reportedly planning to make entry into two of Africa’s biggest markets, Nigeria and South Africa.
Reports say Orange CEO, Stephane Richard said the company is looking to widen its footprint in Africa by establishing a presence in these countries but this might take a few months.
“It could make sense to be in economies such as Nigeria and South Africa,” Richard was quoted as saying. “If one considers there are things to do, the time frame I am considering is rather a few months than a few years.”
Although how and when these entries will take place is still anyone’s guess, it is important to acknowledge Orange’s involvement in the acquisition of some telco units across Africa. In 2016, it acquired four of Airtel’s units in Africa. Though Orange had not made any play for South Africa’s telecom market, it had previously made investments in eCommerce, WiFi access, and business services.
Also in 2016, the telecom giant invested N32.7 billion in African Internet Group (Jumia) and in 2017, when Etisalat Nigeria (now 9mobile) fell into financial crisis, Orange was one of the investors and they purchased a 65% stake in Etisalat Nigeria.
What Could This Mean For Nigeria’s Resident Telcos?
It is important to note that Orange is more than capable of taking over the Nigerian market with over 266 million customers worldwide and 89,000 employees in France and 59,000 employees in other parts of the world where its operations are situated. It is also, the tenth-largest mobile network operator in the world and the fourth largest in Europe after Vodafone, Telefónica, and Veon.
One of two things may happen with this shift:
1. Orange could seek a fresh entry.
2. The company could acquire the license of any of the existing telcos like Airtel did, acquiring a license that had been passed down from several telcos starting from Econet or 9mobile from Etisalat.
Regardless of its entry mode, this move into the country, Orange could bring fresh and much-needed competition to the Nigerian telecom sector.
The payments space could also see a significant impact. With over 40 million mobile money users, Orange seems to be making huge revenues from its financial services arm in its current markets. Nigeria has a consistently growing market space and this expansion plans maybe with that as the target.
Though there’s not much information detailing the shift, for now, competition might inject new life to Nigeria’s telecom market and possibly fuel the adoption of mobile money.