Orange teams with utility Engie to expand electricity grid in Africa

Orange and France-based energy utility Engie signed a partnership covering plans to expand the rural electricity grid in Africa as well as improve the supply of energy to Orange's infrastructure in the region.

Africa is a highly important market for Orange, which operates businesses in 19 markets across Africa and the Middle East (MEA). Especially in Africa, the poor infrastructure there is one of the major challenges in the provision of telecoms services to rural areas.

The operator now hopes to make use of Engie's expertise to expand the electricity grid in Africa and encourage responsible power consumption on the continent. According to a BearingPoint Study in 2014, it is estimated that 69 per cent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa and 90 per cent of the rural population in the same region have no access to the electricity grid.

Engie currently supplies 760 MW of power in Africa and aims to become one of the major energy leaders on the continent by 2025. The company -- which until April this year was called GDF Suez -- has also created a dedicated business unit for the region with around a hundred employees.

The two groups said they will trial a range of domestic power supply products for rural populations that could then be marketed by Orange. These products could, for instance, include individual solar kits and small-scale, local electricity networks. The service could then be billed via mobile using Orange Money.

The trials will allow the companies to validate the technical solutions, the sales and distribution models, and the economic feasibility of the service before making it available on a larger scale.

In October, a report from the GSMA forecast that there will be 386 million unique mobile subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa by the end of this year, equivalent to 41 per cent of the region's population.

The subscriber base in the region has thus increased by 13 per cent a year (CAGR) on average during the first half of this decade (2010 to 2015), growing at more than twice the rate of the global average (6 per cent) during this period.

For more:
- see the Orange and Engie release

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