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Chinese brands take on Nairobi's mobile phone market

05 June 2015, 11:18

Nairobi - In those dozens of mobile phone shops in the downtown area of Nairobi, products of Chinese brands have conquered the shelves.

A recent report by Safaricom shows that among the over 100,000 smart phones sold in the country every month, about 98 percent of them are from Asia.

Besides South Korea's Samsung, Chinese brands, like Tecno, Huawei, OPPO and Wiko, have firmly established their popularity in the country, elbowing aside the once famed names such as Alcatel and Motorola.

"Ever since I started using a smart phone, I have never used any other brand apart from Samsung and Tecno. I now have a Tecno, it's good and I am not planning to change it soon," said Washington Omollo, a communication officer with a non-governmental organization in Nairobi.

Tecno, a name that even many Chinese are not familiar with, now comes second in popularity in Kenya's mobile phone market following Samsung, according to the Safaricom report.

The company, which is based in China's southern city of Shenzhen, has been focused on African markets and proved doing great as its products have reached most countries of the continent.

In one of its three flagship stores in Nairobi, local businessman John Makenzi told Xinhua that he was going to buy a Tecno mobile phone of 340 U.S. dollars, after comparing Tecno products with those of Samsung.

"I decide to buy this one because it has some advantages. Its battery lasts longer, its camera creates very clear pictures and it has good network, even in remote areas," he said, adding that the phone has a thin shape, "excellent" touch screen and just the applications he needs.

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Zhang Feng, a Tecno marketing manager in Nairobi, said their mobile phones in Kenya are priced from some 20 U.S. dollars to 400 U.S. dollars, having offered options for people of different purchasing power since entering the country in 2008.

While some of the Chinese-made electronic products were once seen as being cheap or even counterfeit, more and more Chinese companies are seeking to change that concept.

With its main target being producing good-quality mobile phones with favorable prices in the past years, Tecno are aiming to promote high-end products with cutting-edge functions from 2015, Zhang said.

"One kind of our newly-launched mobile phones features fabulous music play application, equipped with advanced earphones and a music library. We have bought the copyright of those African pop songs and users can download them free of charge," Zhang said, noting that they hope local people will associate Tecno phones with being "modern" rather than "cheaper".

Apart from Tecno, other Chinese companies, like the tech giant Huawei, OPPO and Wiko also have their shares in the Kenyan market.

"Three things have made the Asian phone makers endear themselves to Kenyans. First by innovation, then affordability, and lastly, readily available customer service in Nairobi and other towns," said Phillip Musasia, an information technology consultant.

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- Xinhua


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