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Orange MEA sees biggest Q1 growth in 10 years

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Orange's Africa and Middle East business recorded its best first quarterly performance in 10 years - driven by growth in mobile data, mobile money and fixed broadband.

"Revenues, in particular, were sustained by the remarkable performance in Africa and the Middle East where Orange posted growth of more than 7% and passed the threshold of 130 million mobile customers," said Stéphane Richard, Orange Group chairman and CEO.

Africa and Middle East revenue grew to almost €1.5 billion (US$1.81 billion) in the first quarter of 2021.

Overall group revenue grew 0.5% to €10.3 billion (US$12.4 billion). Group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization after leasing (EBITDAal) fell 0.3% to €2.56 billion ($3 billion).

Orange's Africa and Middle East mobile customers increased 6% YoY to 130.9 million users across 18 markets. The region's 4G customer base reached 36.1 million, increasing 36% in one year.

The fixed broadband customer base also grew 38.4% year-on-year (YoY) to 1.8 million customers, with revenue up 38.2%.

"This exceptional growth was driven principally by the Sonatel and Côte d’Ivoire sub-groups and by Egypt. Half the countries in the region posted double-digit revenue growth with solid performances in Guinea, Burkina Faso, Mali and Cameroon," Orange said in the results statement.

The telco's mobile money platform, Orange Money, also continued its strong growth in the region with revenues up 18.9%. The Africa and Middle East customer base grew 18% YoY to 22 million active Orange Money customers.

Orange Bank Africa already had 514,000 customers at the end of the first quarter, 63% of whom have taken out a loan. Orange Bank also had 1.5 million customers in Europe, Richard said.

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