Orange's M-health Initiative To Boost Competitiveness

Orange has partnered with the Cameroonian Ministry of Health to launch a mobile health (m-health) service called My Healthline. The real-time service operates as a helpline where members of the public can send their personal, anonymous questions to and receive a response from a specialist medical professional within one hour. Although the service has a notable social connotation, considering that it addresses the severe shortage of medical personnel in the country, BMI believes it has the potential to boost Orange's competitiveness in the mobile market.

Service Gap Creates Opportunity
Physicians Per 10,000 Inhabitants In Selected Countries, 2013

My Healthline will primarily address questions relating to contraception and sexual health, although Orange intends to expand the service to other medical areas in the coming months. The service will focus on themes often considered sensitive and which people need reliable, non-judgmental information. The service is provided in French, English and Pidgin and is accessible through any mobile phone. Orange based the need for the m-health service on the Ministry of Health's data which showed that there were only two doctors per 10,000 inhabitants. Although this ratio is in line with regional trends, according to BMI data, it is considerably lower than the average of 26 doctors per 10,000 inhabitants in developed states such as the US and UK.

BMI notes that Orange's move supports the view that mobile network operators in Africa are well placed to take advantage of the service gaps in other sectors of the economy to deliver innovative telecoms crossover services ( see 'Africa Telecoms Outlook - Key Markets And Trends In 2014', January 16 2014). In addition to mobile commerce (m-commerce) services, which Orange and main rival MTN already provide in Cameroon, we identified healthcare, agriculture, education and entertainment as sectors with service gaps that operators can take advantage of.

Apart from the social case for My Healthline, BMI believes there is a strong business case for the service. Orange and MTN's duopoly will be broken when third licensee, Viettel, launches commercial services in H214. Viettel has been granted exclusive 3G concession until December 2014 and plans to undercut the incumbent operators in terms of tariffs. This increases the likelihood of high churn rates on Orange and MTN's 2G networks as well as further ARPU decline. BMI had argued that the two operators must expand their non-voice services portfolios to sustain subscriptions and revenue growth. Orange's m-health service is a step in the right direction as it could appeal to a significant proportion of the operator's 6.036mn (as of December 2013) subscriber base. Furthermore, the service is priced at XAF200 (USD0.42) per message, meaning that it has the potential to boost Orange financial indicators. Although the service fee is modest and Orange might have to share it with the Ministry of Health and participating medical professionals, the contribution to Orange's revenues and ARPU could be significant when aggregated over multiple accesses.

This article is tagged to:
Sector: Telecommunications, Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare
Geography: Cameroon, Cameroon, Cameroon, Cameroon

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