Côte d’Ivoire: Orange launches support fund for start-ups

Boubacar Diallo

Orange Ivory Coast-Telecom, the Ivorian subsidiary of the French telecommunications group, will launch this year a fund to help local start-ups to finance their projects, by providing a guarantee for their bank loans. Initial stake: 100 million CFA francs (152,000 euros).

“We are starting with a fund endowed with 100 million CFA francs. It will function as a sort of guarantee for bank loans from start-up founders, “Mamadou Bamba, the managing director of Orange Côte d’Ivoire-Telecom, told Jeune Afrique.

If the initial investment is still limited, the subsidiary of the French group does not rule out doubling or even tripling the amount of this fund in the coming years. The guarantees provided by this fund should in particular go to promoters of young structures in need of relatively limited funding, of the order of a few million CFA francs, in the early stages of their development.

Accelerate on mobile banking

Leader on the Ivorian market with 11 million subscribers and 599 billion CFA francs in turnover in 2015 (combined mobile and fixed subscriptions), Orange holds 53% of the turnover of the telephony sector in the country.

Orange plans to consolidate this position, then accelerate its development strategy by focusing in particular on e-commerce. “We are shareholders of Afrimarket and Africa Internet Group with the aim of capitalizing on some assets such as the Orange Money merchant payment offer as a means of purchasing goods and services via the web and mobile,” continued Mamadou. Bamba who revealed that his business has around 4.3 million mobile banking users. This figure reached 3.5 million subscribers in April 2015.

This objective will be facilitated by the recent obtaining from the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) of three authorizations to become an establishment issuing electronic money in Senegal, Mali and Cote d´Ivoire. The French group had also obtained similar approval from the Central Bank of Guinea.

Completion of Airtel’s acquisition in Burkina in June

In terms of regional development, Orange hopes to complete its acquisition of Bharti Airtel in Burkina Faso in June. Stéphane Richard, the CEO of Orange, announced in January that an agreement was to be reached with the Indian Bharti Airtel for the purchase of two mobile operators, in Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone.

Once the regulatory authorities have given their approval, the subsidiaries in Burkina Faso and Liberia will be attached to Orange Côte d’Ivoire. The Bharti Airtel license was transferred on May 24 by the Burkina authorities to Orange.

The next challenges are the finalization of the Orange and Côte d’Ivoire Telecom process, still underway, on which a memorandum of understanding was signed on April 28. After this merger, the capital of Côte d’Ivoire Telecom would be 73% owned by the Orange group, 15% by the Ivorian government and about 12% by Sifcom, owned by the Billon family.

Source: Jeune Afrique

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