France Telecom pushes for rural Africa, Middle East and south east Asia
France Telecom has spelt out further details of its ambitious strategy for emerging markets.
Earlier this year, CEO Stephane Richard announced the radical Conquests 2015 plan, aimed at improving France’s domestic infrastructure and driving international customer numbers to 300 million within five years.
Richard has said he wants France Telecom to be a “champion of Africa’s rural poor” by providing access to cut-price services across the continent. He now plans a similar assault on markets in Indochina and other parts of Asia with an increased war chest. France Telecom has also signalled its interest in the Middle East’s less penetrated markets with a proposal to acquire part of Iraqi operator Korek Telecom. The company has said it believes it can double its revenue from the Middle East and Africa by 2015.
Initial indications that emerging market growth plans were mainly organic in nature appear to have been superseded by a more aggressive outlook. Richard has said a proportion of the proposed increase in revenue from the MEA region will have to come through acquisitions. He said that France Telecom is also backing its strategy with investment in submarine cables between Africa and the rest of the world. Any plans to expand business in south east Asia will pit France Telecom against well established companies in the region, experts on the region have pointed out. Emeka Obiodu, a senior analyst from Ovum Research, offered potential strategies for the French incum-ben: “It can attempt to buy existing operators, rebrand them as Orange and try to leverage its expertise and economies of scale to improve them,” he said.