The relatively high total cost of ownership (TCO) of mobile phones remains a major obstacl e to raising penetration levels i n emerging markets across Africa. BMI identifies the lack of engagement by local electronics manufacturers in developing own-brand handsets as well as the inability of African operators to develop relevant locally-themed content and applications as key part s of the problem . Therefore, news that a Nigerian joint venture with links to a major West African handset distributor has developed a range of low-cost feature and smartphones is welcomed for the potential it offers.
The Phone and Allied Products Dealers Association (PAPDAN) reports that the iQ and MaxTel branded handsets will initially be aimed at Nigerian consumers. However, as PAPDAN regularly sells approximately 2mn handsets an d related devices per month in several oth er West Afri can countries, BMI believes the new products are likely to find a warm welcome in other large and fast-growing mark ets such as Niger, Benin, Ghana, Guinea and Liberia. Pricing and technical specifications are yet to be revealed, but the devices are expected to go on sale before the end of 2013.
|Huge Appetite For New Handsets|
|Nigeria Annual Handset Shipments ('000)|
Although foreign-made handsets are in widespread use across the continent, import duties, retail sales taxes, and high licensing costs tend to keep handset TCOs beyond the reach of many potential subscribers. By manufacturing locally and exporting to neighbou ring countries with favourable bilateral trade agreements, BMI believes that several key elements of ha ndset TCO can be slashed. Furthermore, PAPDAN's links to more than 3,000 dealers across the region should ensure the devices gain high visibility with operators and retailers.
Regional operators such as Orange , Airtel , Etisalat -owned Moov and subsidiaries of Morocco-based Maroc Telecom are keen to improve subscriber addition rates in underserved and rural areas and will certainly welcome these new products. The ability to customise the handsets according to local users' needs and expectations will encourage operators to further develop their fledgling value-added services, including music libraries, social networking applications and mobile commerce solutions, reducing their dependence on foreign-made devices, which often come pre-loaded with irrel evant applications that bear high licensing fees or are dependent on non-existent high-speed networks .
With almost 120.4mn active mobile connections as of July 2013, driven by high handset acquisition/upgrade/replacement rates, Nigeria is one of the largest African markets for handsets. BMI expects that 25.44mn handsets will be shipped to Nigerian customers in 2013, up from 22.11mn in 2012. By 2017, we forecast that 30.89mn new handsets will be shipped in Nigeria.