Mobinil becomes Orange in Egypt; CEO warns of fourth mobile licence

Egypt-based Mobinil officially changed its name to Orange on Tuesday, bringing the France-based operator's brand to another market in Middle East and Africa.

Orange, which holds around 99 per cent of listed company Egyptian Company for Mobile Services or 'ECMS' -- which operates under the Mobinil/Orange Egypt brand -- said Egypt is its largest operation in terms of customer numbers, with 33.4 million customers at the end of December 2015.

Furthermore, the newly named Orange Egypt contributed over 27 per cent of the group's revenue for the Middle East and Africa region and about 3 per cent of total group revenue as of the end of 2015. It has a 33.2 per cent market share and is second in terms of customer numbers.

Stéphane Richard, chairman and CEO of Orange, said: "Today, Orange is a mobile operator in Egypt, but we want to be much more than that in the future. We want to be a true digital player and help the Egyptian economy and its people to draw the benefits of the digital age."

Yves Gauthier, the CEO of the new Orange Egypt, also took the opportunity to warn about the potential harm of awarding a fourth mobile licence to Telecom Egypt.

According to Ahram Online, Gauthier used the example of the French market to illustrate the effects that a fourth operator can have on a market. Indeed, the arrival of Free Mobile in France caused a price war that continues to have repercussions to this day, the latest development being discussions between Orange and Bouygues Group on a possible takeover of Bouygues Telecom.

Ahram Online pointed out that Egypt already has a mobile phone penetration rate of more than 100 per cent. The government has for years delayed a plan to award state-owned fixed operator Telecom Egypt a licence to become Egypt's fourth mobile operator.

Meanwhile Orange is now present in 19 countries across Africa and the Middle East. It had 110.2 million mobile customers in the region at the end of 2015. In July 2015 Orange also created a holding company, Orange MEA, to bring its MEA operations into a single organisation

The France-based operator has consistently regarded MEA as an important growth area for the group. At Mobile World Congress in February, Orange also teamed up with Google to offer an all-inclusive communications package to MEA consumers covering mobile voice, data, texts and a smartphone with tariffs starting at $40 (€36.20).

Orange MEA sold almost 1 million smartphones in 2015. The company further noted that smartphone penetration is still growing in the region: it was 15 per cent on average at the end of 2015, up from 11 per cent in 2014.

For more:
- see this Orange release
- see this Ahram Online article

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