Posted on Tuesday, 13 November 2012 17:28

Foreign mobile phone operators blow hot and cold in Africa

France Telecom (Orange) is expanding in Tunisia/Photo©NICOLAS FAUQUÉ/WWW.IMAGESDETUNISIE.COMIn September 2012, France Telecom's chief executive Stéphane Richard told employees in an internal video that times were tough.

In France, a new mobile network called Free, which offers hugely discounted tariffs, has eaten into revenue.

But not all is gloom, said Richard.

Soon after, France Telecom announced six new chief executive appointments in Africa, including in Senegal, Mali and Tunisia.

It has set a target of €7bn in revenues for Africa by 2015.

Other foreign operators with a pan-African footprint are less optimistic.

Bharti Airtel, which reported $1bn in revenue in Africa in June, said it may not meet a target of $5bn in revenue and $2bn in core earnings by March 2013.

As part of restructuring ahead of the initial public offering of tower company Bharti Infratel, Bharti announced management changes too.

Reports in October suggest it could be preparing to merge its India and Africa operations in 2013.

Meanwhile, in October media sources reported that French group Vivendi was looking for a buyer for its 53% stake in Maroc Telecom, which has operations in Gabon, Mali, Burkina Faso and Mauritius.

Rising debt levels have forced Vivendi to consider offloading assets, and Maroc Telecom has suffered from the crisis in Mali and competition in the Moroccan market●

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