France Telecom to Expand In Rural Africa

France Telecom is planning to take over rural Africa with a variety of low-cost products and services which are intended to double its sales in the region by 2015.

The French operator is betting on rapid expansion in rapidly expanding markets in Africa and the Middle East to offset a slow decline in its longstanding fixed-line business and lower profits from French mobile operations.

On Tuesday, it outlined its strategy for doubling revenues in the region from €3.4bn ($4.7bn) in 2009. It plans to build networks, solicit low-income rural customers and provide mobile internet services through its Orange brand. It said that it prefers organic growth rather than growth through acquisitions.

Marc Rennard, executive director for the region, said “Orange wants to be the champion of rural Africa.”

France Telecom has 55 million customers and has operations in 22 countries in the Middle East and Africa. It forecasts that a relatively high average gross domestic product growth, a young population and minimal mobile penetration into the area ensure a good opportunity for rapid organic growth.

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