Vodacom and Orange in talks for improved rural connectivity

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May 20, 2024
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2 min read
Vodacom
  • Vodacom Group Ltd and French telco Orange SA are in talks about forming a strategic partnership in Africa to explore infrastructure deals that will reduce costs on the continent and improve connectivity in rural areas.
  • According to Bloomberg, the telcos are considering agreements in markets where they both operate, such as Egypt and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as exploring other areas for collaboration, including potential infrastructure sharing and joint improvement of rural connectivity.
  • With Africa's Internet user base expected to grow by 377.3 million (+51.79%) between 2024 and 2029, the two telcos are working to expand and capture these emerging markets.

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

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

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

Orange SA has a presence in over ten African countries, including Egypt, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Botswana, Mali, Morocco, Senegal, and Ivory Coast, and serves 298 million customers worldwide.  

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

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

While the company now serves over 200 million customers, it highlighted that its acquisition in Egypt, combined with strong performance in South Africa, its largest market, resulted in a 29.1% increase in the group's service revenue, with Egypt now serving 48.3 million customers, up 6.2%.


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