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Mobile Money in West Africa – Orange Feels Squeezed

Created by two Americans to lower the cost of mobile money transactions, Wave has been in the spotlight ever since Orange Telecom tried to curb its development in Senegal. Taken by surprise by the ultra-competitive offer that the US start-up (which specialises in low-cost transactions) has been proposing since May 2020, the telecoms leader decided at the beginning of June to block the possibility of purchasing phone credit via its mobile application and USSD code. The dispute between Wave and Orange is now in the hands of Senegal’s telecoms regulator. But if the telecoms regulator declares itself unable to rule, this complex case may be brought before the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO), or be judged as a common law case by the Competition Authority. In Côte d’Ivoire, where Wave was launched in April 2021, the Senegalese dispute is being closely monitored.

Alastair Tempest

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