TELECOMS

France Telecom to Invest Sh7bn in Kenya

France Telecom will inject an additional Sh7 billion into Telkom Kenya during the year, as it gears to roll out its mobile phone service under a new platform.

Telkom Kenya offers a fixed wireless service using CDMA technology, but wants to switch to the GSM technology to match its rivals, Safaricom and Celtel, as it seeks to upstage the two in the cellular phone market.

Speaking in Nairobi during a country tour, France Telcom chairman and chief executive, Didier Lombard, said the new funding underlines the French firm's commitment to Kenya as an investment destination. "We are investing in Kenya for the long-term because we believe it is one of the fast growing economies in the world," said Mr Lombard.

It was his first visit to the country since his company paid Sh26.1 billion in December last year, together with a Dubai-based Alcazar Capital Limited, to secure a 51 per cent stake in Telkom Kenya. Its GSM cellular phone operation will operate under its Orange brand name.

About 20 per cent of the Sh7 billion will go towards upgrading Telkom Kenya's international broadband capacity and fixed line network. Asked about the date of the launch, Mr Lombard said, "We will launch the service very soon."

Econet Wireless is also slated to launch its mobile phone services by July, adding up to four, the number of companies operating in the rapidly growing sector.

The Nation

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