France Telecom upbeat on African growth

Reuters, Wednesday 9 Nov 2011

Europe's third-largest telecom operator is on track to nearly double Middle East and African revenue by 2015, says senior figure

France Telecom, hit by unrest in North and West Africa earlier this year, said business was returning to normal in Tunisia and Ivory Coast and the company remained on track to almost double revenue in the Africa and Middle East region by 2015, a senior executive said on Wednesday.

Last year Europe's third-largest telecom operator by market capitalisation, which also operates under the "Orange" brand, said it wanted to increase revenue to 7 billion euros (US$9.7 billion) from 4 billion within five years.
"The impact of the crisis was huge at the beginning of the year in Egypt, in Tunisia and also Ivory Coast for us," Marc Rennard, executive vice president for Africa, Middle East and Asia, told Reuters on the sidelines of a telecoms conference.
"But business is again booming, especially in Ivory Coast and Tunisia. It is not exactly the same for the time being in Egypt, it remains very tough," he said.
The presidents of Egypt and Tunisia were toppled in popular uprisings, while Ivory Coast is rapidly recovering after a disputed election in 2010 reignited a civil war that killed about 3,000 people and displaced more than 1 million.
France Telecom holds a majority share in Mobinil, one of Egypt's three mobile phone operators.
Rennard said growth in Africa for the company would be driven by data as countries mature in terms of voice and SMS.
"And the next stream for increasing revenue will come from mobile broadband, from services to corporates and for services given to other operators," he said.
France Telecom, which has finalised plans to buy mobile phone operator Congo Chine Telecoms in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was also looking to convert minority stakes into majority stakes in Morocco and Iraq.
"It will be probably the same in Iraq and some other countries but it will be case-by-case and in discussions with our partners," Rennard said.
Short link: