Nigerian based maker of smartphones and tablet computer Ordinary Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) AFRIONE talks about the Nigerian IT market and the need for the country to be a producer of technology.In this interview, Lekan Akinjide, Manager Director for Strategy & Government Coordination, Afrione talks about AFRIONE’s relationship with the public sectors and MDAs in Nigeria. Anthony Nwosu captured it all in this interview.
What is Afrione Known for in the IT market in Nigeria?
We say Afrione is for everyone. Afrifone Limited, incorporated in 2016 and a stand-alone subsidiary company of the Contec Global Group plans to penetrate the Nigerian mobile technology market, and subsequently the African mobile assembly market by establishing a manufacturing plant in Lagos. The first factory has been established in Oshodi, Lagos. Our aim is to align with the “Made in Nigeria’’ initiative of the present Government and generate employment opportunities for the Nigerian youth. Afrione takes pride to be one of the few mobile, tablet, laptop and consumer electronics manufacturers in Nigeria. We would want to add our own quota to the information technology revolution, not only in Nigeria, but Africa.
AfriOne as an OEM in Nigeria, how has been business been?
We are a local assembler of mobile phones and tablet computers. We are expanding our market to reach other areas of mobile telecommunication devices and supporting accessories. We are positioned to provide affordable devices by bringing down the prices of these mobile devices in the country. We are looking at expanding to other countries in the future. We have a tablet in the market that is called the We have a tablet in the market that is called the Two in One “Transformer”, we have been working with N Power, a federal government interventionist scheme slated to empower and equip the young Nigerians. Our capacity is about one hundred and eighty thousand to two hundred thousand a month; but at the moment we’re focused on batch production.
Why are you not looking at the export market?
The Lagos state Government has been very to us in the areas of support. But, we have to hit the critical mass in this country before we start to export. Even if you look at the export market, Nigeria is the equivalent of about seventy percent of our potential export market .It doesn’t make business sense when you haven’t addressed the local demand and you are looking at export market. But, we would always look to exports, especially the sub Saharan Africa in future.
Congratulations on the great facility you guys have here, you are making awesome strides in the IT space, but what is your “go to market” plan?
Nigeria market is a bit fragmented, though the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) and National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) are trying to streamline the regulatory process. We have looked at market entry and we looked at certain benchmarks like’ capital, capacity and capability and this is one thing that is going for us. We have met with the regulators and met with some of these benchmarks such as type approval (NCC).
What is your support system and after sales solution. With a lot of devices in the market, aftersales are important?
We have a growing aftersales structure, we have presence in almost every state and also we have multiple presences in bigger states like Lagos. We strongly believe in after sales. We do a minimum of one year warranty and it covers the devices.
The issues of updates are important; most OEMs find it a bit hard to push updates in time. What is your position on this?
In the area of software updates, we try as much as possible to push them, some we do monthly while others we do quarterly. We send updates when it is necessary. Updates is what we do not joke with, our engineers ensure that when it is necessary for our customers to receive updates, we do that.
As an OEM in Nigeria, what are the few challenges that you face in Nigeria?
The clearing process can be slow and convoluted. We also have to contend with other issues like scarcity and dearth of essential skill set, to source good and quality labour in Nigeria can be a challenging task. In order to mitigate this, we’ve signed an MOU with Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH.)
How is your distributorship like?
We try to maintain as much control on distributorship as possible; we have to ensure that we get it right, though in some places like the Northern Nigeria, we have to work with distributors that have local monopoly. Our distribution is great; we are still going to open other outlets.
In Nigeria, people have issues with accepting local products like yours, what are you doing to gain market acceptability?
Well, you are right in your statement, but we must try to understand that every product has evolutionary cycle. Even the well-known brands suffered reject at a certain point in their life, we aren’t selling based on sentiment, we aren’t appealing to emotions because as a Nigerian firm, we expect Nigerians to buy our products, we don’t have that mindset, though it is a good one. We are looking at giving quality products to Nigerians. We want to offer quality IT devices in the Nigerian marketplace, we want Nigerians to be proud of being associated with our products. We must be realistic about this and also our country can’t continue importing technology as. It is not sustainable and we want Nigerians to also understand that no country grows by importation, this is a fact. We must start producing and assembling and that is why we are here.
What should Nigerians expect from AFRIONE in this last quarter?
We have a couple of products that we intend to launch before the end of the last quarter and we are working towards that. We need Nigerians to know that AFRIONE produces proudly made in Nigeria devices which are in line with global best practice and our standards are high. Our products range from tablets and mobile phones, with a price targeted to the mass market. We want people to have access to quality smartphones at affordable prices, this is our mission.
Public Sector and MDAs like NITDA, NCC and others, what are the level of support you have gotten from them?
We have a great relationship with these organizations and we believe that we can still work hand in hand with them. We have support from Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment and the Ministry of Communications Technology. As I said before, the Lagos State has been great of support to us and they want us to succeed. They have rendered all forms of support from creating an enabling environment.
“Even the well-known brands suffered reject at a certain point in their life, we aren’t selling based on sentiment, and we aren’t appealing to emotions because as a Nigerian firm, we expect Nigerians to buy our products, we don’t have that mindset, though it is a good one”