October 6, 2015

If recent mobile technology deals are indications of where mobile technology and its related industry are headed in Africa, mobile video-on-demand streaming services could be the next big thing.

At least according to recent moves made by French multinational telecommunications company, Orange, S.A., which recently invested in Afrostream, a Netflix-like subscription video-on-demand service for the African and European markets.

Across Africa, the expanding use of modern technologies has led to African entrepreneurs creatively trying to find solutions to Africa’s development problems and as well as develop new entertainment products specific for their markets.

Orange joins a clout of investors who in recent months, including a Silicon Valley-based seed accelerator, Y Combinator, that have funneled money into the SVOD streaming service company, to help propel it to compete with other aspiring Netflix-wannabe companies, and African entertainment iRoko entertainment targeting people in the continent and Africans in the Diaspora.

“This investment is part of ODV’s ambition to finance services that are able to address different geographical areas in which orange is present. It will enable us to develop the video-on-demand market, particularly in Africa,” said Pierr Loutte, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Orange and President of Orange Digital ventures. “It will also enable us to enrich the content we already offer to our customers in France, as Afrostream should be launched on Orange TV by next summer.”

The investment, which the company said it made though its corporate fund, Orange Digital Ventures, is the third of its kind the telecom company has made within the last month, including launching a crowdfunding platform in Cote d’Ivoire with HelloAsso, and a joint venture with Singtel (Singtel Innov8), Deutsche Telekom, and Telefonica-designed to bridge start-up ecosystems across Africa, Europe, Middle East and South Asia to help catalyze and grow the startups  businesses beyond their respective home markets.

Afrostream’s unlimited streaming service, which is currently available in Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire, France, Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg, features programing for the entire family and includes cartoons, concerts and documentaries, in addition to films and TV series.

The French company added that the investment “illustrates Orange’s support to talented entrepreneurs through a combination of measures made available to start-ups, from the acceleration program to early stage financing.”

Analysts say while these investments allow Orange to lend its support to talented entrepreneurs, it ’s also strategic move to put the company ahead of its competitors in Africa, which includes MTN, giving it direct, unabridged access to some of the continent’s emerging startup ecosystems.

This latest investment provides Orange with strategic advantage to tap into its presence in Africa and European countries with large African Diaspora population, to tap into new developments as well as collaborate and nurture emerging startups like Afrostream to facilitate their developments.

Through its Orange ventures, the french telecom company selects and funds emerging start-ups in the communication and digital sectors in the first stages of their development with the objective goals of helping to transform and catalyze their innovative disruptive technologies to spur transformation of the sectors.

So far, Orange Digital Ventures with a budget of 20 million euros in its first year, invests though minority equity positions.

The company said it will work with Afrostream’s development by providing its access to its networks, distribution and payment.

Tonje Bakang, CEO of Afrostream said this strategic investment by Orange will help “Afrostream now brings together the best of the mobile internet and the best of African content. This alliance will enable us to revolutionize the entertainment industry and to reach all audiences.”


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