Both Orange and Bharti Airtel International announced the deal in January 2016 without disclosing the financial details of the agreement. Bharti Airtel, the largest telecom operator in India, aims to utilize the proceedings from the deal in the African telecom market, to manage its debt.
Airtel has over 1.3 million customers in Sierra Leone. Since Sierra Leone has a mobile penetration of around 50 percent of the population, the African country offers growth potential for mobile business. Orange will be making significant investment to extend the telecom operator’s 3G network in Africa.
Orange’s mobile customers in Sierra Leone will also benefit from the support of the Sonatel group and can gain from Orange’s expertise and momentum in terms of innovation and development of the digital ecosystem.
Orange will be riding on Airtel network, which already offers good mobile coverage in Freetown and other major towns in Sierra Leone, to provide mobile internet access to customers living outside major urban areas.
Sierra Leone becomes the 21st country in Africa and the Middle East to join the Orange group. Earlier, Orange announced the launch of telecom operations in Liberia and Burkina Faso.
Bruno Mettling, CEO of Orange MEA, said: “This new acquisition, which will be consolidated by Sonatel, will further strengthen Orange’s strategic position on the African continent.”