Orange Money deal with Airtel in West Africa part of expansion plan

Orange's move to work with Airtel to offer mobile money transfer between the Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso is just one step in an effort to expand its services throughout Africa.

Orange Money customers in the Ivory Coast can now send and receive money to or from Airtel customers in Burkina Faso. Orange Money has over 13 million customers in 12 African countries, including Jordan. The partnership with Airtel, which runs its Airtel Money service in 16 African countries, is likely to trigger more internetwork and mobile money transfers.

In West Africa, Orange Money International Transfer already serves users in Senegal, Ivory Coast and Mali, but the pact with Airtel fills a gap in the region.

"Côte d'Ivoire--Burkina Faso is the largest corridor in terms of volume of money transfers' and these two of the biggest telcos operating in Africa plan to extend the new service beyond the two countries," according to Orange spokeswoman Caroline Simeoni, via email.

While plans are being made, Orange will not comment on future international mobile money services, she said.

Since 2010, Orange Telecom has run its mobile money service as a separate business unit, and has aimed to increase its reach in Africa by partnering with other entities.

Last month, Orange partnered with pan-African banking group Ecobank to roll out a service that will let Orange Money subscribers who are also bank customers transfer money among their respective accounts. The service has been launched in Mali and is expected to be rolled out in Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea Conakry, Niger, Senegal and the DR Congo in the first half of 2015.

Last September, a similar deal was struck with Bank of Africa, which has operations in 14 African countries.

Olusegun Abolaji Ogundeji

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