Huawei aims high for Nigeria smartphone sales

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 September, 2013, 2:29am

Huawei Technologies, the mainland's largest manufacturer of networking equipment, plans to double smartphone sales in Nigeria this year as it seeks to boost its global market share, company officials said.

The firm - which released its Ascend P6 smartphone in Lagos, the commercial capital of Africa's biggest phone market, on September 6 - forecast it would sell 200,000 smartphones in the country by the end of the year, Tony Liang, the managing director of Huawei's consumer business group for West Africa, said earlier this month. That is twice the number it sold last year.

"With Nigeria developing economically, smartphone use will boom over the next five years," Liang said.

More than 90 per cent of the phones used in the country now were "feature phones", used only for voice calls and text messages, leaving room for smartphone growth, he said.

The Shenzhen-based firm seeks to become one of the world's top three smartphone vendors by 2018. Nigeria had 117 million mobile-phone subscribers in June, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission, for a population of more than 160 million.

With many subscribers acquiring more than one line, the number will grow to more than 200 million in 2017, London-based research firm Informa Telecoms & Media estimates.

While Huawei was a relatively late entrant in the Nigerian smartphone market, it had the advantage of being a network provider to most phone companies, said Yolanda Zhang, the marketing director of consumer business in West Africa.

"We already partner with them for their networks," Zhang said. "That makes it easier for us than for the others to partner with them [for the smartphone segment as well]."

Its competitors include Canadian-based BlackBerry, which remains a popular brand in Nigeria, Finland's Nokia, Taiwan's HTC, Hong Kong's Tecno Telecom, Samsung Electronics and Apple.

Huawei said it was helping deploy a fibre backbone to connect government departments in Abuja by mid-2014 in collaboration with Nigerian firm Galaxy Backbone and was in talks to extend it across the country, to enable cheaper data services.