France Telecom-Orange acquires Congo operator

France Telecom-Orange has made a play into the Central African market, with the full acquisition of the Democratic Republic of the Congo mobile operator Congo Chine Télécom (CCT).

As part of the deal, the company paid Chinese vendor ZTE $10 million for its 51% share in CTT, and the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo $7 million for its 49% share.

Additionally, ZTE will continue to provide network equipment and services to CCT, while the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo will receive $71 million from the mobile operator for improved licence terms. The 10 year extension includes receiving additional frequencies in the 2G and 3G range.

France Telecom-Orange's chairman and CEO Stephane Richard said the acquisition of CCT is an “important step” in its policy of expanding outside of Europe and doubling its revenues in Africa and the Middle East by 2015.

“Orange is already present in over 20 countries in the region and has built up considerable experience developing networks and new services that are specifically tailored to the needs of local markets. I am delighted that France Telecom-Orange will be in a position to provide our most innovative offers to the residential and business communities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a promising economy endowed with vast natural resources," he said.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the second largest country in Africa and its fourth most populous with over 70 million inhabitants. The nation, however, has a mobile penetration rate of only 17%, which is comparatively lower to neighbouring countries.

CTT was established in 2000 as a joint venture between ZTE and the local fixed-line incumbent OCPT. IT competes with three other mobile operators in the domestic market, including Vodacom and Zain.

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