• Friday, April 12, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

African phone brand plans $30m manufacturing plant in Nigeria

businessday-icon

Driven essentially by the immense potential in Nigeria’s phone market, African start-up and mobile phone maker, Mi-fone says it is finalising plans to establish a multi-million dollar manufacturing plant in the country. Alpesh Patel, chief executive officer, Mi-Fone, who made this known in Lagos, weekend, said the assembly plant would come on stream by the end of the third quarter of 2013.

Speaking with BusinessDay, Alpesh pointed out that the sheer size of the Nigerian market was enough incentive for any phone manufacturer to establish an assembly plant.

“We know there is a lot of talk

about other phone brands coming into Nigeria with plans to build a plant. We are very serious about our plans. We want to bring what we are doing in China here. Nigerian labour costs are much cheaper than China. There is a big push in Nigeria for increased employment. There is a big push for localisation. I think we need to play our part in ensuring that these objectives are attained”, he said.

The Mi-Fone CEO noted that the $30 million business is bullish about the Nigerian market, further adding that the company’s entry strategy would be to focus on the smartphone segment.

Already, there is a proliferation of smartphones in the Nigerian market but Patel strongly believes that “this market has more than enough room for new players.”

Statistics from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) show that there are 45 million Internet users in Nigeria, the highest online population in Africa. This also implies that over 120 million people in Nigerians do not have access to efficient and affordable internet services.

“Our job is to ensure that we do whatever we can to connect as many Nigerians as possible to the internet. They are not going to be able to afford $ 500 laptops.

“If we can give them an affordable smartphone with a very good quality screen, software, and user experience, we believe this is the window to the world for many Nigerians. We cannot ignore the low-end, but our entry strategy would be to focus on smartphone”, he said.

Alpesh said Mi-Fone is a true pan-African phone brand with the objective of becoming a dominant player in Africa’s phone market. “In the last five years, we are known for our innovation. We now supply to 14 countries in Africa. You have Nokia, Samsung, Hauwei, Techno – a very successful Chinese brand, but there is no pan-African brand”, he added.

He said the company has designed devices specifically targeted at the bottom of the pyramid. The Mi-Fone model has already struck a chord with low income earners in more than 12 African countries.

“We are in a position where we will give you a Chinese price but not a Chinese phone. We started the business with selling handsets but of course the business has evolved. So,it is now about selling services on the handset. What is relevant to Nigerians does not mean it is relevant to Rwandese. So, we have customised our offering for each market to give the users the relevant tools on the handset screen”, he concluded.

 

BEN UZOR JR