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Augere: Sanjiv Ahuja, Former CEO Of Orange SA, Draws Comparisons Between The UAE And The Opportunities In Africa for His New Venture, Augere
[April 29, 2009]

Augere: Sanjiv Ahuja, Former CEO Of Orange SA, Draws Comparisons Between The UAE And The Opportunities In Africa for His New Venture, Augere

Dubai, Apr 29, 2009 (M2 PRESSWIRE via COMTEX) -- SANJIV AHUJA, former CEO of mobile networks giant Orange SA and Chairman of Orange PLC, said today that the UAE still offers tremendous opportunities in the Telecoms and Media sectors, and drew comparisons between broadband penetration there and the huge potential in Africa and Asia, the key initial target markets for his new venture, Augere.

Delivering the keynote speech at TelecomFinance 2009, at Dubai's Park Hyatt, Mr Ahuja, who grew Orange's customer base from 43 million to over 100 million customers worldwide between 2004 and 2008, said he would be drawing on the Middle East's experience in his new venture as he targets Africa and Asia.

Augere's mission is to bring broadband internet to the 80pc of the world's population where it is currently out of reach. By bringing wireless broadband to these areas where fixed line access is limited, Mr Ahuja and his team aim to provide significant returns for investors whilst also developing local corporate social responsibility programmes, and help drive forward the process of creating new jobs, new business sectors and new opportunities for the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Turning his attention towards Africa, Mr. Ahuja told the conference that the continent remained one of the few unclaimed global communications markets where many lucrative investment opportunities still existed. "Whilst mobile penetration is a respectable 40pc," he said "the market for rich data and high bandwidth consumer services remains largely uncontested." He said that it was these services that could prove hugely beneficial to Africaas it continues upon its developmental path.

But, in a stark warning to Governments in the West, Mr. Ahuja warned that Africamust not be made to suffer for the West's credit crunch. "We risk losing much economic progress to the downturn which could take many years to recover." Mr. Ahuja talked of the need for African governments to understand the regulatory requirements which would entice high quality operators to do business in their countries. "Badly needed infrastructure investment programmes begin with sensible regulatory frameworks. The challenge is to provide communications services to the 75pc of African citizens living rurally." According to Mr. Ahuja the winners in these markets will be those companies that can achieve scale rapidly without being incapable of managing growth; companies with an understanding of low revenues per user and specific market niches; and, most important of all, those with access to capital. He highlighted the fact that Augere, led by a team of highly experienced international telecoms executives, has already secured significant financial and strategic backing and entered into its first major co-operation agreement, as well as commencing operational activities in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

About Sanjiv Ahuja Chairman and CEO, Augere Sanjiv is the founder and Chairman of Augere, a new venture aiming to provide broadband access for all. He is also the founder and Chairman of Eaton Telecom Infrastructure. Sanjiv served as CEO of Orange S. A. for three years from March 2004 - April 2007. Prior to that, he was the company's Chief Operating Officer from April 2003 to March 2004. After stepping down as CEO of Orange S.A. in April 2007, he held the position of Chairman of Orange UKuntil September 2008.

During his leadership, Orangeincreased the number of countries in which it operates from 17 to 23 and has more than doubled the number of its mobile customers from 48 million to over 100 million worldwide. Sanjiv has also overseen the successful extension of the Orangebrand from its mobile origins so that it now embraces France Telecom's broadband, fixed line and IPTV services in its largest markets.

Sanjiv's previous industry experience includes the role of President of Telcordia Technologies (formerly Bellcore), the world's largest provider of operations support systems, network software and consulting and engineering services to the telecommunications industry. Prior to that, he spent fifteen years at IBM in various executive roles. His last responsibility included leading IBM's entry into the telecommunications software industry.

Sanjiv has a degree in electrical engineering from Delhi University, India, and a masters degree from ColumbiaUniversityin New York.

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