French telecoms heavyweight France Telecom (FT) has set out an ambitious plan to become the ‘champion of rural Africa’, through the introduction of low-cost products and services aimed at doubling its sales there by 2015. The Financial Times writes that FT is pinning its hopes on a dramatic expansion in key, fast-growing African and Middle Eastern markets to offset a gradual decline in its traditional cash cows – its domestic fixed line and mobile operations. The Paris-based outfit yesterday elaborated on a strategy designed to double its revenues in the region – which reached USD4.7 billion in 2009 – through the installation of new networks, which it hopes will lead to the addition of masses of low-income rural customers using its Orange-brand mobile internet services.
FT said its priority was organic growth rather than large-scale acquisitions. However, earlier this year the group’s CEO Stephane Richard said that up to two-thirds of the additional revenues he is targeting from the Middle East and Africa by 2015 would come from acquisitions. In September 2010 the French group acquired a 40% stake in Meditel, Morocco’s second largest operator. Today, FT has around 55 million users in 22 countries in Africa and the Middle East.