Orange Tunisie is ready to launch Africa’s first Apps Store by May 31st. It will be the first apps store to go live in an African country. Isabelle Gross spoke to Nadia Mkhinini, Head of Products and Services at Orange Tunisie about what the apps store will have in for the Tunisian mobile users and how Orange Tunisie will tackle local apps development.

Orange Tunisie’s says that “the development and the commercialisation of apps are central to their 3G strategy”. The launch of the apps store is the next step in Orange Tunisie’s mobile content strategy.

Orange Tunisie’s apps store will offer a mix of international and local mobile applications. The international apps are sourced via the Orange’s group apps portfolio. There will be applications in French and in Arabic.

Nadia Mkhinini reckons that by the launch date, they will have 50 local applications online. They range from cinema, transport, banking to tourism related applications. Most of the local applications fall in the category of utility and so far there are no local game applications.

Developers can also choose how they want to sell their applications: free with advertising or as a paid for application. The price of a paid for application will be directly deducted from the mobile subscriber’s calling credits.

In parallel to the launch of the iPhone4 last October, Orange Tunisie also run a competition aimed at supporting local developers to develop apps for the iPhone. For the 100 most promising apps, Orange Tunisie paid the US$99 registration fee that is required by Apple to access its development platform. Most young Tunisians don’t have a bank account or a credit card and therefore it is very difficult for them to enrol on any international apps distribution platform.