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Orange plans R&D centre for Ivory Coast

Orange Group set to open R&D in sub-Saharan Africa as part of regional expansion plan

French telco, Orange Group, is investing heavily in Africa.
French telco, Orange Group, is investing heavily in Africa.

France's incumbent telecom operator, Orange Group, said it plans to open a new R&D centre, or 'Technocentre', in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, by the end of the year.

Orange said that the new facility will provide a "centre of expertise" to develop and launch new products and services designed to meet regional needs.

The Technocentre will join Orange Group's network of 15 Orange Labs worldwide, which include regional centres in Amman and Cairo.

Marc Rennard, executive vice president for Africa, Middle East and Asia, Orange, said that markets in the region have "specific needs that require a whole new approach" to mobile services.

"In addition to traditional voice communication, there is a strong demand for new services that provide access to financial services or local content," he said. "By drawing on local knowledge and expertise, the new Technocentre will enable us to develop innovative new offers in these areas that will create value both for our customers and the economy as a whole."

The centre will specialise in multimedia services for mobile networks, such as SMS, USSD (basic data services via a GSM network), and Wap or web-based services. It will also work on solutions designed to give access to the internet all Africans by improving network accessibility and developing new content-based services.

The facility will also provide support for countries in the region as the roll-out of Orange Money, the group's mobile payment service, accelerates over the coming months.

Jean-Paul Cottet, executive vice president in charge of marketing and innovation at Orange, said the new Technocentre could become "a launch-pad for new services" for the group's operations across the region.

"Mobile services are playing key role in the socio-economic environment of sub-Saharan Africa," he said.

Orange's decision to open the R&D centre appears to be part of a broader expansion plan by the company in Africa and the Middle East.

Earlier in the year, the company's CEO, Stephane Richard, said the group may invest as much as $9.3 billion over the next five years in the region.