Money transfer firm could take on Orange mobiles in Senegal

Sun Mar 19, 2017 8:00am GMT

* Deal gives Wari access to mobiles for money transfer

* New company could challenge Orange's mobile money dominance

* Wari to list on West Africa stock exchange after Tigo deal

By Nellie Peyton

DAKAR, March 19 (Reuters) - When Senegalese money transfer firm Wari agreed to buy the local mobile arm of Luxembourg-based Millicom International Cellular last month, it set the stage to challenge Orange's hold on mobile phones in French-speaking West Africa.

Wari plans to list on the West Africa stock exchange (the BRVM) in Ivory Coast this year, after the $129 million deal to buy mobile operator Tigo from Millicom is done, its CEO told Reuters in an interview.

Wari is Senegal's top money transfer service, a low-cost alternative to Western Union that allows customers to transfer cash and pay bills at gas stations, banks and even roadside stands.

The deal will give Wari the capability to transfer money on mobile phones, a rapidly-expanding service that is dominated in the region by French company Orange. Orange has nearly 8 million mobile users in Senegal, twice as many as runner-up Tigo.

While the deal will only give Wari a telecoms license in Senegal, it could use it as a starting point for a push for greater competition in other French-speaking countries in West Africa such as Mali, Guinea and Ivory Coast.   Continued...

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