France’s Orange enters African off-grid solar market

After the launch of Orange Energie in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and then in Mijro in Madagascar in February, Orange is preparing to take another step in the deployment of its electrification program in rural areas, by launching the service in Burkina Faso.

Proposed in the form of a kit including a solar panel and a battery, alongside other accessories, including LED bulbs, kits to recharge several phones, radios and/or televisions, the equipment is provided by partners BBOXX in the DRC, d.light in Madagascar and Niwa in Burkina Faso, and were selected by Orange for the quality of their products and their ability to meet massive demand.

The solar kits are robust and can illuminate a whole house, recharge cell phones, and operate a radio or a television, the company said.

Alongside this, users will benefit from the Orange guarantee, which will take full responsibility for installation, maintenance and repairs, with the assistance of technical partners.

Several type of subscription are available to users: weekly, monthly or quarterly, with monthly subscriptions starting, for example in DRC, at US$15. The payment via Orange Money allow users to wirelessly choose the duration of the service.

The electricity sector, on the other hand, is an important axis in Orange’s strategic diversification plan in Africa, where access to energy is challenging for many people. In sub-Saharan Africa in particular, 70% of the population does not have access to the electricity grid and power cuts are frequent, even in larger, urban areas, the company stressed.

“Orange wants to be much more than a telecom operator in Africa. It wants to be a provider of essential services to the people. The development of solutions that allow as many people as possible to access everyday essentials such as sustainable energy, is a strong message in the right direction,” said Bruno Mettling, CEO of Orange Middle East and Africa.

Orange is present in 20 countries in Africa and the Middle East, where it has currently more than 130 million customers.