Chinese smartphone makers strengthen foothold in Rwanda

Chinese smartphone makers, Tecno, Konka and other Asian brands like KZG and Itel have been carrying out huge marketing of their brands in Rwanda over the past year. Their strategy is multipronged they are radio and TV smartphone brands adverts as well as billboards of the same along city streets and other places.

Frank Gakara, the general manager of the Tecno Rwanda franchise, toldBusiness Times that Rwandans, especially the middle-income earners, prefer smartphones, thanks to their many user-friendly applications.

Most Rwandans cannot afford high-end brands like Samsungs Galaxy series, Apples iPhone, BlackBerry or Alcatel, opting for the more affordable Chinese-made phones.

Though some people, especially the corporates, would like to acquire the latest smartphone brands at any cost, Gakara feels the Rwandan market, just like the rest of the African market has been ignored by large smartphone makers like Apple, HTC, Samsung and Blackberry. He says brands like Tecno have developed their African growth strategy by producing and selling volumes at lower prices compared to the other brands:

The Chinese have prioritised the African market… they have looked at the gaps in the market and tried to fix them. Previously, we didn’t have service phone centres, but today we have five of them in the city and others in most of the districts.

People love something that is affordable, can perform all the functions and are easy to repair.

Tecno plans to set up an electronics factory at the Kigali Special Economic Zone and a ‘Tecno building’ in town, once they get the necessary approvals from the Rwanda Development Board:

We want to support government’s vision of making Rwanda an Information Communication Technology (ICT) hub. The factory will enable us supply affordable electronic devices like smartphones in the country and in the region, thereby reducing transport costs between China and Rwanda.

June statistics from RURA show that there were 2,571,500 mobile Internet subscribers, representing a 25 per cent penetration rate for smartphones.

The data also indicated that the mobile phone penetration rate in Rwanda stood at 7,214,385 people, leaving much more to be desired in terms of growing the number of smartphone users

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