Orange Tunisia is set to launch an app store specifically designed for locally relevant apps. By locally I mean Tunisia and mostly the French and Arabic speaking Africans. The launch will be on May 31st and the app store will be located at m.orange.tn. Already the developer centre is up and running where all developers will can now submit apps and 70% of the revenue will go to the developer. It will not be be the first apps store to go live in an African country as Safaricom is already running such a store but with mostly free apps.

Safaricom is using app aggregators like Getjar and others, it is a move which will boost local innovation. Nzioka Waita of Safaricom says that the company does not have the capacity to deal with individual developers and so the apps “aggregators” will cover for that. This move might mean lower revenue for the Kenyan developers submitting on Safaricom’s app store. The Safaricom’s App store already has more than 5,565 mainly international apps.

The app store will launch with around 50 apps offering a mix of international and local mobile applications. The international apps are mainly sourced via the Orange’s group apps portfolio. The launch date apps will range from cinema, transport, banking to tourism related applications. Most of the local applications fall in the category of utility and there are no local game applications available yet.

Developers will be able to choose whether they want to their apps free with advertising or as a paid for application. The price of a paid for application will be directly deducted from the subscriber’s airtime.

In February 2011, Orange Tunisia opened an apps development centre in Tunis to help train local enthusiasts on how to build mobile apps and offer access to the 11 MAC, 13PC and a range of smartphones with 3G connection at the centre. Tunisian developers can book for space at the centre online. And during the October 2010 launch of iPhone 4, Orange started a developer for iPhone challenge where Orange would pay the 99 USD to the top 100 apps from promising developers. The $99 is required to register on Apple’s app store.

Tunisia’s smartphone penetration is at only 5% with 42% of total handsets in the country having data capabilities, out of which 15% are 3G. 3G network penetration is at 71%.

What do you think of the move by Orange Tunisia? Shouldn’t Orange Kenya and Uganda replicate the same?