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Orange launches super app 'Max it' for Africa

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Telecoms operator Orange has launched its own super app for Africa, called 'Max it'.

Developed by the Orange teams in Africa, the first version of Max it is available in five countries: Cameroon, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso and Botswana. The group will then roll out the app in waves, with functional updates, in Orange's other operations across Africa and the Middle East.

Max it is described as a portal for mobile services that aims to simplify the digital experience and ease achievement of daily activities for all users on the continent.

The operator said the launch came due to the success of the Orange Money and My Orange applications, used by over 22 million customers.

Orange is present in 18 countries in Africa and the Middle East where it had over 146 million customers as of June 30, 2023.

Orange said it expects to have around 45 million active users on the super app by 2025.

"Max it has great potential, especially in a part of the world where the smartphone is the gateway to everyday digital life, with a fast-growing adoption rate expected to reach 61% of connected customers by 2025," Orange said.

Combining telecoms, fintech and e-commerce

The new app will bring together the worlds of telecoms – with account features to manage mobile and fixed lines; payment and mobile money transfer options; and an e-commerce platform offering digital content like online games, music, TV, videos and news as well as a digital ticketing service for transport and events.

Max it is accessible to everyone, regardless of which telecoms network they use, and for fintech services the app will use Orange Money as the payment base while accepting other solutions for paying for purchases via the super app.

From launch, the super app will offer Orange services as well as digital services from local and international partners, but the telco did not specify who these partners will be.

"Max it perfectly reflects Orange's spirit of innovation in Africa and the Middle East. By bringing together all our services and those of numerous partners, this application strengthens our position as a multi-service operator and our desire to offer the best of digital services to all our customers," Orange CEO Christel Heydemann said about the launch.

Jérôme Hénique, CEO of Orange Middle East and Africa, said that the app was designed through co-creation with stakeholders including employees, customers, partners and distributors.

"Now, with Max it, everyone can meet their different needs, such as managing their phone plan, finances or shopping. It's an open, scalable platform that opens up many development opportunities for the continent and strengthens our approach to inclusion," he added.

Jerome Henique, CEO of Orange Middle East and Africa.   (Source: Orange)
Jérôme Hénique, CEO of Orange Middle East and Africa.
(Source: Orange)

The super app is available in different languages and incorporates local specificities for greater inclusion.

The rise of the super app

The notion of a super app has been rising in popularity across Africa in recent years, with local startups and telecoms operators looking to cash in on the success of Asian trailblazers like WeChat, AliPay and Grab.

Super apps offer different services from chat to e-commerce, ride hailing and food delivery as well as fintech services like payments, remittances and loans – all in one app.

MTN's Ayoba launched in 2019 as an instant messaging app and has since added features like gaming, music and video streaming and micro-apps – which allow web applications to be incorporated into the Ayoba ecosystem – while MTN Mobile Money has also been integrated into Ayoba in select markets. In June 2023 Ayoba had 28.3 million monthly active users across Africa.

Kenyan and Ethiopian operator Safaricom's M-Pesa super app launched in June 2021 and now has 8.5 million consumer app downloads, 1.6 million active consumers and over 1.3 million downloads on the businesses app.

Vodacom launched its super app VodaPay in South Africa in October 2021 and now has over 7.6 million downloads and 4.1 million registered users in the country.

Super app Gozem operates across West Africa offering services that include transport of passengers and goods, e-commerce, food delivery, financing and digital payments.

Meanwhile South African-based data-free super app MoyaApp offers instant messaging, data-free browsing on over 300 websites, and mobile financial services through MoyaPay.

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*Top image source: Image by senivpetro on Freepik.

— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

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