France Telecom must shape up to challenge big telcos in East Africa


I am sure we have all heard how France Telecom plans to dominate the East Africa region. They have bought and operate Orange brand in Kenya, Tanzania, Mauritius and recently Ethiopia.

The desire to challenge MTN and Vodafone in the region is great but what surprises me is how hard it is to get a comment from anyone from France Telecom. No one seems to know how to get France Telecom representatives in the region.

Sample this; for the last three weeks, I have been trying to get anyone at France Telecom to comment on an article I want to do. At least I knew Ogilvy PR handles Telkom Kenya, so I thought if I asked for their help, they will lead me to the right person.

In response, the guys at Ogilvy said they are trying but till now, no response to my emails on whether you can get a France Telecom rep in the region. I was starting to wonder whether its that hard to get France Telecom.

Then I thought maybe the guy from Ogilvy doesn’t want to help me, after all, it is Telkom Kenya who are the clients and not France Telecom International, though I thought they are in the same extended family.

To cast the net wider, I contacted the corporate communications head at Telkom Kenya to see if I can get some help on that end, after much optimism, nothing has come out of it.

Now am left wondering; is it that France Telecom does not know that they can decline to comment, or is it that there are no France Telecom reps in the region, or maybe the company likely to operate in a ghostly manner.

Whatever it is, I think if France telecom is to challenge the domination of other bigger companies, they need to start acting like them, in response to the public, otherwise their silence does not smell like they are contenders.

I will still continue following up, will share more frustrations….and successes as they come along….



  1. France Telecom and Orange are one and the same and they are a very, very screwed up company in France. Since privatizing, there have been multiple suicides in the management of the company in France as they are under an extreme amount of pressure and things aren’t going terribly well.
    It’s no wonder that this would translate out to a scatter-shot management group outside the country as well. They’ve been able to dominate in the West well due to their old Colonial connections to the governments (much the same as Vodafone in former British colonies), but yeah, the East is going to be a problem. I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried the underselling method that Zain was using.
    Whatever the case, I wish you luck and it may be more fruitful to harass the folks back in France.

  2. Kenyan and East African regional representatives will not answer you – of course not. Irrespective of colour. It isn’t customary. Business is far worse in this respect than GoK, that is an iron-clad rule. But the French headquarters very likely will. Just press on there.

    PS: the French do not like to speak or write foreignish, even if they have learned it. Address them in smooth French and they will be helpful.

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