France Telecom plots further African expansion
France Telecom Orange has said that it plans to enter Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso and Mauritania as part of a continued expansion into fast growing African mobile markets.
Elie Girard, head of strategy and development at the carrier, told reporters that France Telecom was also looking to sign management contracts with telecom companies in Libya, Algeria and Ethiopia as a means to eventually enter those markets, according to Reuters.
Girard said no acquisition talks were underway but that the group was committed to diversifying through growth in Africa and the Middle East.
"If we manage to enter Benin, Togo, Burkina (Faso) and Mauritania, for example, that would be very valuable for us," he told reporters at a briefing in London.
Girard added that the proximity to Orange’s African operations in Mali and Senegal made these markets more attractive.
Girard also said that entering Benin would improve links between the company’s network in Niger and subsea systems like the France Telecom Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) cable.
France telecom has set targets to double its turnover in emerging markets to €7 billion by 2015, and the group believes it is on track to do so after acquisitions in Morocco, Tunisia, and Iraq.
Generating profits in these regions has proven difficult due to lower average customer spend than Europe and the expense of running mobile networks in areas with unreliable or nonexistent power infrastructure.
Girard said that France Telecom’s goal was to rebalance the different parts of the group, but this didn’t mean huge acquisitions.
“We’ll continue a very reasonable step-by-step strategy on development and acquisitions, just as we have in the last 15 years.”