Orange launches new products to drive digital transformation in Africa

Paris, FRANCE:  Picture taken 25 August 2005 shows a logo of French mobile telecommunications operator Orange at the headquarters of France Telecom, the state-controlled parent company of Orange.  AFP  PHOTO  DAMIEN MEYER  (Photo credit should read DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images)

Orange, one of the world’s leading telecommunication operator, has announced the launch of a new set of products in a bid to drive digital transformation in Africa and the Middle East.

First up is the Orange Rural Electrification Programme, which it describes as “the first domestic solar-energy trial for consumers to generate electricity in rural Africa.”

This programme will see Orange provide an affordable solution – either to individual customers or collectives – to help populations generate electricity where no traditional electricity grids are available.

Solar kits or micro-grids, which are wholly subsidised by Orange, will be provided to rural communities, who will pay using Orange Money, to harness the power of the sun and generate electricity.

The programme will be piloted first in the Ivory Coast, Senegal and Cameroon for six months beginning from November 2016.

Next is the smart electricity meter, which will be trialled in Tunisia this September in partnership with STEG (The Tunisian Company of Electricity and Gas).

The smart meter will help utility companies reduce the cost of reading meters and the risk of fraud or billing errors – its smart infrastructure will make everything work like magic!

The pilot is due to run for six months with 100 smart meters installed in residential premises in Tunisia.

When the pilot is completed, Orange expects four million smart meters to be in circulation when they are eventually rolled out commercially across the country.

Then there’s NFC Coins, which allow merchants to provide change to customers in the form of digital coins.

What NFC Coins does is ‘digitise’ coins to provide an easy, quick and secure way to get change from any merchant.

It is a contactless solution to top up any Orange customer with airtime without disclosing the phone number, and solves the issue of a lack of change and coins in Africa.

Once an Orange customer sticks an NFC tag on their mobile, the merchant returns change to them in the form of airtime credit instantaneously.

Before July comes to an end, merchants and customers in Mali, Guinea and the Ivory Coast will be the first to start using the product.

Another product is NOMAD, an on-the-spot solution to authenticate and activate new customers or services effectively.

NOMAD is a simple portal which provides a fast and reliable service for Orange sales agents to authenticate and activate new accounts or services.

Accessible via USSD or through an Android app on a smartphone, tablet or web interface, NOMAD allows Orange sales forces to perform transactions ranging from prepaid identification and acquisition, Orange Money subscriptions and SIM Swap services, et al, while customers are in shops or at Orange kiosks.

With over 700,000 active retailers and kiosks across the MEA region, this new solution enables Orange to digitise its entire distribution channel.

NOMAD has already been rolled out in 14 countries in the MEA region.

Last but not least is the #303# My Store, a USSD-based app store through which service providers can deliver mobile services to any type of phone.

USSD allows any publisher to address Orange’s customer base regardless of the type of device.

Orange end customers can access the store to find all kinds of content on all topics provided by partners.

In August 2016, Cameroon and Egypt will launch its portal with the same #303# unique code to roll out to the rest of the countries in Orange’s MEA footprint.

“The Middle East and Africa remains a key growth contributor for Orange. Today, we are present in 21 countries in the zone, with more than one in 10 Africans being Orange customers,” said Bruno Mettling, CEO, Orange MEA.

He added, “We are investing for the long term and plan to continue playing a major role in the digital transformation of the region, from providing infrastructure and access to communications services through to developing new models that will help the region grow.”

These products were announced at Orange’s 4th annual strategy and activity update for press and analysts today (July 28) in London.

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