Orange telecoms expands its latest banking and energy services across Africa

Following the successful launch of both services, French telecommunication giant, Orange is working on expanding its latest solar energy and banking operations into other parts of Africa.

“Orange wants to be much more than a telecoms operator in Africa. We want to be a provider of essential services for our customers. The development of solutions that allow as many people as possible to access everyday essentials such as sustainable energy is a strong message in this direction,” Bruno Mettling, CEO of Orange Middle East and Africa, told journalists at the just concluded Africa CEO Forum in Ivory Coast.

Mettling revealed that Orange has applied for a banking license to the West African Economic and Monetary Union, the central bank for countries that share the CFA currency after it successfully launched in France.

The telecoms operator is also expanding its plan to bring solar energy to a number of countries across Africa, following a successful implementation of the sustainable energy initiative in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar, with plans to include Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, Senegal and Ivory Coast.

Mettle said that the bank will operate with an unnamed partner in order to improve the Orange Money mobile platform, which has 12 million active customers in 18 countries on the continent.

“The financial experience of Orange started in Africa,” Mettling said. “However, to launch a bank, we need a partner in terms of experience, in terms of interface. It’s very useful to have a partner that knows the system, the back office system,” the CEO added.

Although Financial Times said that French bankers have questioned why Orange is diversifying from the traditional telecoms operations, but analysts have been more optimistic about the decision.

In a recent interview with Total Telecom, Bruno Mettling said that in many African markets, customers pay more for the electricity they use to charge their phone, than the mobile phone tariff itself. Hence, providing a clean, sustainable and cost-effective energy source for its African customers is, therefore, a key priority for the company.

Orange is currently rolling out thousands of Orange Energy kits across the continent. The kits comprised of a solar panel, battery, and numerous accessories. The kits can generate enough power to light a house, charge a family’s mobile phones and power a television or radio.

Apart from expanding its solar energy business and banking operations into other parts of Africa, Orange is seeking to build partnerships in Africa for its telecommunication business rather than making major acquisitions or entering new markets.

Mettling who spoke with Bloomberg in an interview revealed that Mobile-phone operators in Africa have to increasingly share their investment in infrastructure to reduce costs. “That’s what we’re doing in sharing our network, our infrastructure with other partners, to optimize the expenses,” he said.

According to the latest data available, Orange Money transactions totaled €14.5bn in 2016. However, Mettling said the company’s revenues from Orange Money grew 60 percent from 2016 to 2017, without giving specific figures.