Orange and Nokia kick off Africa modernization project

Orange and Nokia have announced a three-year modernization project to roll out single radio access network and network management technology across seven African countries in preparation for 4G.

The project is claimed to be one of the largest rollouts across the continent, with the aim of future-proofing some 11,000 radio sites in Egypt, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Senegal, Mali, Guinea-Bissau and Niger. Using Nokia’s Single RAN technology and modernization services, Orange has said it will be able to support existing 2G and 3G customers, while also keeping an eye on the 4G space.

“We needed to ensure a smooth evolution of our network while launching 4G in all countries where it was possible and Nokia was the best partner to pave that way,” said Jean Marc Vignolles, COO for Orange MEA.

“We have a longstanding relationship with Orange in Africa and are thrilled to take this relationship to the next level with this agreement,” said Amr El-Leithy, Head of the MEA Market for Nokia. “Our proven technology and services will enable Orange to proactively manage the data explosion and develop new revenue streams. Orange will also be able to offer new services that take advantage of enhanced broadband speeds to enrich the subscriber experience.”

Africa is a complicated market due to the huge difference between the haves and the have nots across the continent. While there are some modern cities craving 4G and building the roadmaps for 5G, such as Cape Town and Nairobi, there are huge swaths which are underserved when it comes to the most basic concepts of connectivity. It is a very tight-rope to walk as while there is money to be made with the modernized cities, the telcos need to be careful not to widen the digital gap.