Orange invests $85M in Africa Internet Group, Africa’s first billion dollar tech firm

There’s more money for Africa Internet Group (AIG), the Rocket Internet-backed company that became Africa’s first tech unicorn last month when it landed a $326 million investment at a valuation of more than $1 billion.

AIG today revealed that it has taken an additional €75 million (around $85 million) in additional cash from new investor mobile giant Orange. Beyond the new capital, the deal marks a strategic partnership between the two that will help AIG push and promote its many businesses — which include online sales site Jumia, Uber rival Easy Taxi, Hellofood and travel booking site Jovago — across the 12 countries in Africa where Orange and AIG share a mutual presence.

Rocket Internet CEO Oliver Samwer said in a statement that there will be “significant synergies” in the future, which suggests that AIG will tap into Orange’s multiple operators in some capacity. AIG already has partnerships with mobile operators Milicom and MTN, which are also stakeholders in the business, but its collaboration with Orange will cover countries where MTN is not present. (MTN Group Chief Digital Officer Herman Singh pointed that out with a statement, presumably added to clarify that the telcos will not step on each others toes.)

While the exact scope of the partnership may not be clear right now, Orange CEO and chairman Stéphane Richard did add further color and explain that AIG and Orange have inked “several important partnership agreements:”

This investment will enable us to significantly develop our ability to market products and services developed by Orange Middle East & Africa over the Internet. This operation, initiated by our corporate investment fund Orange Digital Ventures, is fully aligned with our strategic plan, Essentiels2020, particularly with regards to our ambition to reinvent customer service, develop the digital channels and services offered to customers as well as our ambition to develop our activities in Africa and the Middle East.

So, Orange may promote AIG-owned businesses, or perhaps offer reduced/free data to customers that use specific services.

Most of this new money is likely to find its way to Jumia, AIG’s e-commerce firm that is present in 11 countries in Africa. Rocket Internet has dedicated electronic and fashion commerce sites in Europe, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, but four-year-old Jumia covers a wider range: from fashion, to electronics, home appliances and other consumer items.

“We are thrilled by Orange’s equity investment and are eager to translate our strategic partnership into unique offers for our customers,” Jumia and AIG co-CEO Sacha Poignonnec and Jeremy Hodara added.