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Google, Orange partner on African innovation

Orange and Google have signed a partnership that aims to take access to new Google services to users across Africa.

In line with the deal, Orange’s 60 million African mobile customers will be able to stay in touch with their Google services and Google users will be able to extend their network by using SMS-based services.

In a statement, Orange and Google said the partnership would use Orange’s SMS platform to bring Google’s services to African customers.

The partners said the agreement marked an important step forward that would facilitate access to the growing mobile internet market in Africa.

They noted that by the end of 2010, only 1.4% of the population in Africa and Middle East had access to broadband services, compared to 62.5% for mobile services.

Gmail’s SMS Chat service, which will eventually be launched across Orange’s footprint in Africa and the Middle East, is already available in Senegal, Uganda and Kenya. It will be launched in four additional countries - Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea Conakry and Niger - in the coming months, and will be launched as a trial in Egypt through Mobinil. Orange and Google are now looking to extend this partnership to include other services.

The services proposed under Google SMS are only the first stage of this partnership. Orange and Google are now exploring ways of bringing other Google services to the whole Orange customer base.

Commenting on the partnership, Xavier Perret, VP Strategic Partnerships said: “By bringing the full potential of the mobile internet to our customers in Africa, this strategic partnership is a step forward in Orange’s “Digital Coach” strategy.

The Group’s capacity to combine its knowhow on service infrastructure with innovation, and by adapting its offers to local needs, will enable it to provide mobile customers across Africa with access to internet-based services in the best possible conditions. We are delighted to work with a major brand like Google and we know that by innovating together we can really change the role mobile technology plays in our customers’ lives”.

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