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9Mobile loses ‘Orange’ opportunity to Airtel Sierra Leone

Orange, one of the world’s leading telecommunications operators, announced on Wednesday, the official launch of its brand in Sierra Leone after it successfully completed the acquisition of Airtel Sierra Leone to become Orange Sierra Leone.

Many Nigerian industry analysts said if marketers of troubled Etisalat, now 9Mobile had done a good packaging ahead of time, the deal would have been a good one for it; having been in the buyer’s market since the exit of Dubai investors.

It would be recalled that default in repayment of $2.1bn syndicated loan from 13 Nigerian banks started the trouble of 9Mobile which later degenerated to takeover by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) who appointed a management team with a mandate to prepare the company for outright sale within a period of 180 days. The given timeframe elapses on or before December 31, 2017.

However, observers say two of the drawbacks and fears of Orange for not approaching 9Moblie may include the not too competitive subscriber base and ability to pay off the loan and still invest to reposition the telecom.

Orange, together with its Senegal-based partner Sonatel, acquired the firm to reinforce its presence in West Africa and this is coming after arriving Togo earlier in the year.

On the account of this rebranding, Orange Sierra Leone will rank with one of the world’s most powerful brands and stands to benefit from being part of a large international group.

Orange TelecomsAs part of Orange, it will gain access to the Group’s expertise, technical know-how and an extensive product and service portfolio. With its considerable presence on the African continent, a strategic focus for the Group, Orange offers strong growth potential for its Sierra Leonean operation.

Orange is expected to mop up market share using its global model, tagged Essentials2020 strategic plan which is the ambition of listening to every customer to better address their needs by giving an unmatched experience every day.

Again, its working on extensive investments in network to drive unrivalled customer experience

With a population of seven million people, Sierra Leone has significant potential for growth in mobile services.

Since the acquisition, US $33 million has been invested for that purpose and as of mid-October, the majority of investments have already been realised with 30 new radio sites on air and over half of the entire mobile network upgraded.

Bruno Mettling, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Orange Group and Chairman & CEO of Orange MEA (Middle East and Africa), noted that “We are pleased to bring the Orange brand to Sierra Leone, bolstering our already strong presence in West Africa. The launch of the Orange brand confirms our confidence in the country’s on-going economic recovery and our commitment to bring all the benefits of new digital services to Sierra Leoneans in the framework of a fair, transparent and clear partnership that will enable it to be established over time.”

Sekou Drame, Chief Executive Officer, Orange Sierra Leone, added that “The launch of the Orange brand comes with a promise to meet the emerging needs of customers with innovative, affordable and relevant solutions that will empower consumers, giving them the freedom to do what they choose and provide them with the tools to meet life’s daily challenges”.