Firm set to give rivals, MTN, run for money
By Ada Anioji
Orange telecommunications’ latest move, together with its subsidiary Orange Côte d’Ivoire, to acquire 100% of the mobile operator Airtel in Burkina Faso is seriously underscoring its burning desire to conquer the African telecoms market.
Following the signature of an agreement with Bharti Airtel International (Netherlands) BV (“Airtel”) in January 2016, Orange has now gone ahead to obtain all the necessary official approbations stipulated by the Burkinabe authorities to complete the transaction.
Airtel is the 2nd largest mobile operator in Burkina Faso, with close to 4.6 million customers (on the basis of active customers within a 30-day period). On the mobile financial services market, Airtel is the uncontested leader and is already interoperable with Orange Money in neighbouring countries allowing international transfers to be made. Airtel is also positioned as the country’s leading Internet provider thanks to its extensive 3.75G network, which has been rolled out in over 100 towns.
With 18 million inhabitants and a relatively high mobile penetration rate for the region (80% of the population), Burkina Faso becomes the 20th country in Africa and the Middle East to join the Orange group.
A statement from the firm notes that ‘Orange’s investments in the coming years will enable customers in Burkina Faso to take advantage of the Orange group’s expertise and momentum in terms of innovation and development of the digital ecosystem, thus responding to a strong expectation from customers in Burkina Faso.’
This acquisition in one of the countries with the strongest growth rates in the Economic Community of West African States (5.8% annual growth of GDP) strengthens Orange’s presence in Africa by confirming is proactive strategy in the African market.
Bruno Mettling, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Orange group and Chairman & CEO of Orange MEA (Middle East and Africa), stated: “We are pleased to announce that the acquisition of the mobile operator Airtel in Burkina Faso has been finalised. This new acquisition will further strengthen the Group’s positions on the African continent.”
With this development, analysts say the French-originating firm, which earlier in the year made a first move into the continent’s biggest telecoms market, Nigeria, through an initial investment in the African Internet Group, AIG, may be aiming at giving rivals, MTN, a run for their money in the continent.