As the demand of smartphone increasing ever year due the various application loaded on the phone mobile factories are eyeing Ethiopia to sell their product. Data shows annual growth for Internet users is at 37 percent and with no doubt the coming of the smartphone in the Ethiopian market is playing good role in enhancing the internet users . Among the global company Tecno Mobile is one of them which operated a factory here and sell the products to other African countries. Tecno Mobile was established in 2006 before launching its operations in Ethiopia in September 2011. Capital’s reporter Tesfaye Getnet talked with Henry Yu, Genral Manager of Transsion Manufacturing PLC, Tecno mobile manufacturer to know the achievements and the challenges of the company. Excerpts;
Capital: What are your major challenges and what does the market look like in Africa?
Henry Yu: As of December 2018, Africa’s total population has reached 1.286 billion, making it a billion-level blue ocean market with an extremely young population structure. In recent year, the infrastructure conditions such as telecommunications and mobile networks in Africa have been rapidly improved. We believe this will bring huge opportunities for the development of smart phones and mobile internet business.
The challenges face by TRANSSION is how to always meet the changing needs of the African market and provide African consumers with their favorite products and services.
Capital: What are TRANSSION’s long term plan in Africa?
Henry Yu: Our long-term strategy in product R&D is “think globally and act locally”, that is, we have always innovated and localized our products based on local people’s needs. For example, we use an AI image algorithm to offer a satisfactory photo effect for local people. Our mobile phones also have many features loved by the local people, including stylish design, grease and sweat proof, fast charging and ultra-long standby time etc. In addition, TRANSSION also attaches great importance on social responsibility. We have carried out a number of public welfare activities in Africa, such as donating scholarships, laying street lights and donating supplies to those in need. We are deeply grateful to the African people for their love of TRANSSION mobile phones. We will do our best to give back to the society.
Capital: Would you describe to us how TRANSSION segregated the African market easily?
Henry Yu: Quality and localized products are core values of our market principle. Proven strategy “think globally and act locally”. Multi-brand strategy covering a different consumer need. Strong distribution system, consisting of comprehensive and highly stable distribution channels. Diversified and flexible supply chains and production lines. After-sales services is another area that TRANSSION excels in. Experienced, international and collaborative management teams are helping us to get acceptance in the market.
Capital: How is the current shortage of FOREX in Ethiopia affecting your work?
Henry Yu: As an enterprise rooted in the Ethiopia market, we have given full consideration to the various situations that may arise in the local market. We fully understand the current special situation in FOREX of Ethiopia, and we believe that the government can properly solve this issue.
Capital: We have heard that some workers are complaining that salaries and transportation allowances are too small to cover their living costs, how are you responding to this issue?
Henry Yu: We believe that TRANSSION has a very competitive salary and benefit package especially in the manufacturing sector.
Capital: Recently the Ethiopian government lifted an Equipment Identity Registration System (EIRS) which identified International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) what is your opinion?
Henry Yu: As a multinational company, we strictly abide by the laws and regulations of the country where we do business and respect every decision of the government.
Capital; As far as we know, nothing is being produced in the TECNO factory in Ethiopia. You just assemble what you bring from China. Do you have any plan at least to produce some parts of the mobile here?
Henry Yu: We have a long-term plan for our development in Ethiopia, which would make Ethiopia a mobile hub of Africa in a couple of years. Our company built its ICT Park mega factory in consideration of that plan.
Our new factory site at ICT Park enables TRANSSION to create more job opportunities in Ethiopia, and contribute to the industrial development of the country.
Capital: The distribution channel of TECNO in Ethiopia is monopolized by a few company that raise the question of fair competition. What is your opinion regarding with the criticism?
Henry Yu: We have many distributors and hundreds of sub-dealers all over the country, and if you include the retailers there are more. We are committed to offering a business environment of fair competition for all distributors and retailers and make sure they operate legally and in compliance with all rules and regulations.
Capital: We have seen that the top managers at TECNO mobile are Chinese, why you do not give the top positions to Ethiopian workers?
Henry Yu: We offer every employee a fair and reasonable career path within the company. It is the close collaboration of all employees that makes TRANSSION what it is today.
Mobile phone industry is a new sector in Ethiopia. We believe that with the continuous improvement of technical knowledge and professional ability of our colleagues in Ethiopia, there will be more local senior executives in the future.
Capital: How is your linkage with universities to transfer technology know how and skills in Ethiopia?
Henry Yu: TRANSSION has maintained a close relationship with many local universities and colleges for cultivation of talent, such as Addis Ababa University, Akaki Polytechnic Collage, Misrak Polytechnic Collage, Commerce Collage etc.
We provide an internship training for college students of Ethiopia, which helps them get practical knowledge and access to the new tech sector. Many college students who have interned at TRANSSION are now our employees.
Capital: What are you doing to stop fake TECNO phones from being sold on the market?
Henry Yu: High copy products not only infringe our intellectual property rights, but also have a negative impact on consumers, the government and the environment.
We will appeal to the law and cooperate with local government and law-enforcing department to fight against fake and shoddy products and safeguard the interests of our consumers.
Capital: How is you marketing working now in Ethiopia? And what are your special offers for customers to boost your income?
Henry Yu: We are delivering our best products to Ethiopian customers. Currently, we are having the Easter promotion, which we assure to be the biggest product promotion in Ethiopia ever. We are providing a lot of surprising gifts such as sheep, smartphones, and TVs, the promotion is running nationwide, and every person can be a part of it.