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Vodacom and Orange in talks for improved connectivity in rural areas

  • Vodacom Group Ltd and French telco Orange SA are in talks to form a strategic partnership in Africa to explore infrastructure deals that will reduce costs on the continent and improve connectivity in rural areas.
  • According to Bloombergtelecom companies are considering agreements in markets where they both operate, such as Egypt and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and are also exploring other areas for cooperation, including potential infrastructure sharing and jointly improving rural connectivity.
  • With Africa’s internet user base expected to grow by 377.3 million (+51.79%) between 2024 and 2029, the two telecom companies are working to expand and capture these emerging markets.

The number of users is expected to reach 1.1 billion by 2029, a new high. Meanwhile, Africa has the lowest internet usage reach in rural areas, at 23% as of 2023, according to Statista.

“We are looking at partnerships with other mobile operators and financial investors in the countries where we operate. Our aim is to potentially alleviate the costs of rural deployment and connectivity, help address communications costs and reduce the digital divide,” a Vodacom representative revealed.

With operations in seven African countries including Egypt, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique and Tanzania, South Africa Vodacom claims 186 million customers (including Safaricom).

Orange SA is present in more than ten African countries, including Egypt, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Botswana, Mali, Morocco, Senegal and Ivory Coast, serving 298 million customers worldwide.

In 2023, Orange DRC and Airtel Congo RDC SA, through their partnership that resulted in Mawezi RDC SA, landed 2Africa submarine cables in the Democratic Republic of Congo to improve broadband internet access and accelerate digital inclusion.

On May 13, 2024, Vodacom reported an increase in services revenue for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2024, with its South African affiliate generating R61.6 billion ($3.36 billion), up from 2.6 % compared to the previous year.

While the company now serves more than 200 million customers, it was highlighted that the acquisition in Egypt, combined with strong performance in South Africa, its largest market, resulted in a 29.1% increase in the group’s services revenue, with Egypt now serving 48.3 million customers. an increase of 6.2%.