Orascom will rebrand its African ops Leo shortly


Orascom Telecom will rebrand its four African mobile networks in the coming months as it looks to build a pan-African mobile presence years after having sold most of its businesses on the continent.

Cairo-based Orascom was an early entrant into the African mobile market, but sold off much of its operation there when the company faced debt and liquidity challenges in 2003-2004. It has cautiously re-entered the market in the past year through a new subsidiary, Telecel Globe, which now runs four mobile networks.

All four, trading under separate names and logos, will soon be known as Leo, said Kai Uebach, the chief executive of Telecel. Leo means “now” in Swahili and “lion” in Spanish and Latin. “We are going for a consistent regional brand and the intention is having something that is fresh, like Africa, a living brand,” he said. “It will be a brand that is modern, part of a state of the art, lifestyle-focused network.” As part of the rebranding, Orascom will also move toward offering common services to customers using each network.

While regional operators like South Africa’s MTN and Zain have built large operations targeting Africa’s major markets, Telecel is focusing on small countries with low levels of telecommunications investment. It owns networks in Zimbabwe, Namibia, Burundi and the Central African Republic.

While Uebach declined to comment on Orascom’s involvement in the Zain sale process, he said his company “will definitely be on the acquiring side” of the consolidation expected in the African market in the coming years.

The National