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Orange, a catalyst for start-ups in Africa and the Middle East

Growth in Africa and the Middle East is a key focus of our Lead The Future strategy. That’s why Orange is investing to further strengthen its position as a digital partner for this promising region while supporting inclusion and entrepreneurial development.

Connectivity, our core business and starting point to drive MEA’s digital transformation  

We are a long-standing telecom operator in Africa and the Middle East. While deploying mobile infrastructure enables everyone to access voice and data services, we’ve also grown as a digital expert to meet the continent’s ever-changing lifestyles and consumption patterns. With an on-the-ground presence for many years, we understand local development challenges, the role that digital technology plays, and its positive impact in terms of inclusion.

Most people access the internet through their mobile phones, so mobile operators play a leading role, especially since mobile banking (or mobile money) is the main way people access banking services¹ in sub-Saharan Africa. Orange experts have years of experience in this region of the world. Orange Money, which began as a simple means of payment in 2008, now offers more sophisticated financial services, including loans and savings, promoting greater financial inclusion. We also understand how essential mobile banking is to trade and entrepreneurship development in Africa, which is why our Orange Money service is available in 17 African countries.

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The Orange Energies platform was launched to increase the availability of clean and affordable energy in Africa, helping households access electricity through the remote management of solar kit solutions.

We deeply want to be an impactful company by combining development, digital, and inclusion.

Orange is moving forward in partnership with the continent’s most dynamic start-ups

Our Group invests directly in African and Middle Eastern start-ups. Through the power of digital technology, some have become flagships of African entrepreneurship. One such start-up supported by Orange is InstaDeep, a specialist in advanced AI-based decision-making systems, which was acquired in the summer of 2023 by BioNTech for €500 million for its successful development potential. The two companies have since worked on an AI tool that enables early detection of Covid variants and anticipates their infectious potential.

The start-up Brastorne demonstrates African digital inventiveness by offering online services in a basic but essential form through USSD technology, so people can access it through their mobile phones. One example is enabling farmers to monitor the latest cereal prices from their fields.  

Finally, Kumulus has developed a system the size of a refrigerator that converts the humidity in the air into drinking water. Thanks to solar energy, IoT sensors, and predictive algorithms, this innovation predicts water production and adjusts electricity consumption. The latter won the Orange Social Venture Prize in Africa and the Middle East (OSVP) in 2021.

Africa is the next frontier of the tech scene [...] The hundred or so start-ups supported by Orange are everyday proof of this.

Since 2011, the OSVP has been awarded annually to start-ups from 17 African and Middle Eastern countries that are developing solutions with a strong social or environmental impact. The International Women’s Prize was added in 2020
The ten finalists of the International Grand Prix, as well as the winner of the International Women’s Prize receive six to nine months of support to develop their projects. In addition, the three winners of the Grand Prix and the winner of the Women’s Prize receive funding ranging from €10,000 to €25,000. In 2023, the winners of the Grand Prix were the start-ups Adinkra Jeunesse (1st place), Egrobots (2nd place), and Smart WTI (3rd place) and Bionic Soul won the Women’s Prize.

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OSVP in key figures

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14th year 
in 2024

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1,300 candidates
from 17 countries competed at national level 

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4 international winners
in October 2023

Supporting employability and preparing for future jobs

We also support the continents digital training and adoption through Orange Digital Centers (ODCs), which boosts employability and entrepreneurship through the acquisition of vital digital skills. 

Our ODCs help young people and those with innovative ideas, to find jobs and prepare for future jobs (AI, cybersecurity, etc.) or start up their own business in the digital sector.

ODCs in key figures

  • 13 years' experience supporting start-ups
  • 16 ODCs in Africa and the Middle East, 6 in Europe
  • 1 million people benefiting from their local ODC 
  • 226 start-ups supported
  • 20 start-ups benefiting from Orange Ventures funding

Extending over 16 countries in Africa and the Middle East, these free skills centers offer training courses dedicated to digital professions, fab labs, start-up incubators, and partnerships with Orange Ventures. They also enable Orange to forge closer relationships in many countries to boost diversity and innovation.

Our philosophy is not merely to focus on economic performance, but to create a direct impact on the digital growth of the continent.