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New operator targets Nigeria’s $80 billion telecoms market

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A new telecommunications operator is poised to enter Nigeria’s $80 billion telecoms industry as the fifth largest firm.

Specifically, Orange, the largest telecommunications operator in France, says it is making plans to expand its operations to Nigeria, and South Africa.

Orange Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Stéphane Richard, told Les Echos newspaper that the company believes it would benefit from having a wider footprint in Africa, and will give itself a few months to make a possible move.

“It could make sense to be in economies such as Nigeria and South Africa. If one considers there are things to do, the time frame I am considering is rather a few months than a few years,” he said

The coming of these operators spurred what is today called ‘telecom revolution’. Prior to 2001, Nigeria could only boast of about 425,000 phone lines, mostly analogue. The country was then ranked among Afghanistan and other war-ravaged and economically-strangled nations in terms of telecom development. Within the past 18 years, the number of active phone lines in the country has risen to over 180 million.

Reacting to the development, a telecoms analyst, Kehinde Aluko, said market opportunities are still very huge in Nigeria, and the coming of another operator, a big one like Orange would further deepen the competition and ensure subscribers are offered the best of services.

According to him, many things can still happen in the sector estimated to worth $70 billion. “Nigeria telecom has bolted from the stacks of inertia unlike other sectors. In a season of recession which made other sectors of the economy to slide and steep, telecom bucked the trend. It remained resolute and resilient against centrifugal headwinds.”

Aluko said it is a huge positive for the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government that at a time the national economy dipped south, telecom stayed up north with pleasant ensigns of a beautiful tomorrow.

“Besides, it has remained attractive for investors. Many reasons account for this – largest population (market) in Africa, growing middle class (workforce) of 23 per cent of population, and 37 per cent youth population within the age bracket of 15-35 years. There is also a vast field for broadband services opportunity, growing e-commerce, e-banking, etcetera and a lifestyle that encourages communication (both voice and data); there is still more room for investors,” he stated.

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