Orange: Innovation helps us to become more than just a telco for our subscribers

CommsMEA caught up with Arnauld Blondet, Technocentre, innovation director for AMEA at Orange Group, to find out Orange is innovating across its international footprint to provide more than mere connectivity to its subscribers
Orange, Telecoms, MEA, Africa

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Since beginning life as France’s incumbent telco, Orange has evolved into one of the most ambitious and progressive telecoms firms on the planet. Today, Orange is present in 18 countries in the Middle East and Africa region alone. Furthermore, one in ten people in African are Orange customers.

Not satisfied with this incredible growth, Orange Group continues to expand its remit, both in terms of the locations it serves and the services it provides.  

“There are still a lot of opportunities for growth in the MEA region and this is a key ambition of our Engage 2025 strategy. We see four key pillars of growth in the Middle East and Africa region: mobile money, b2b services, internet and data,” said Orange’s innovation director for AMEA, Arnauld Blondet.  

“We want to be more than an operator for our customers. We place customers at the heart of what we do and we are most and foremost focussed on their needs. When you look at Africa, many customers pay more to charge their phone than using the phone itself. Moreover, the smartphones that we have in Europe are far too expensive for the population in Africa and the Middle East. At Orange, we want to democratise access to digital solutions and essential services such as healthcare, energy etc. and make these accessible to all and not only those who can afford it. Therefore, we have put in place some smart energy solutions that help our customers have an easier and cheaper access to energy and spend less money charging their phone. We have also launched feature phones, such as the Sanza XL 4G, which can be bought for around 28 dollars and provides access to over two hundred essential applications, including: WhatsApp, YouTube, Facebook and the Google Assistant. Our priority is to go deeper in that multi-service direction to provide solutions for people who still can’t afford the great value of mobile, smartphone, of digital solution. We want to be part of the digital transformation that we see in Africa currently.” 

Financial services and mobile money offerings are set to play a huge role in the transformation of people’s digital lives, particularly in Africa, where access to traditional banking services can be hard to come by.

“Access to a traditional bank account remains difficult for a large part of the African population, while mobile phones are, on the other hand, more widely used. Orange has been interested in mobile financial services for many years and we launched over ten years ago a Mobile Money service across most of our MEA markets. It is a basic but very useful system for many of our customers in the region where consumers just need a basic phone and connectivity to send money to anyone who has an Orange account.

“We rely on 600,000 small shops so that people can recover cash from their phone. We have expanded this service dramatically and recently opened this service in Morocco. As part of this service, we also offer microloans to Orange Money customers with a value of less than 100 euros for less than 2 months. This service has great success in the region as it enables millions of people to manage their money, send money to their family, pay for bills and receiving salary easily and securely via a mobile phone, when they would have been otherwise excluded from a formal financial system,” said Blondet.  

You can read the  full interview with Arnauld Blondet, Technocentre, innovation director for AMEA at Orange Group, in this month's issue of CommsMEA. 

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