Young Africans em­brace Chi­nese gad­gets, shat­ter stereo­types

China Daily (Canada) - - BUSINESS - By MASI in Bei­jing and EDITH MUTETHYA in Nairobi, Kenya

Wil­ston Shivachi is an en­thu­si­as­tic user of smart­phones. Like many peo­ple, the lo­gis­tics con­sul­tant could not get through the day with­out his hand­set. He re­lies on the de­vice to shoot self­ies, stream videos on YouTube and check emails when he is out of the of­fice.

The only thing that may sur­prise you is that he is in Kenya, an east­ern African coun­try. Con­trary to the pre­vi­ous stereo­type of a pover­tys­tricken con­ti­nent fraught with po­lit­i­cal tur­moil, the African mar­ket is, in fact, of­fer­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for smart­phone ven­dors, as con­sumers are in­creas­ingly de­sirous of af­ford­able mo­bile de­vices.

Africa’s pop­u­la­tion, the fastest-grow­ing and youngest in the world, is con­cen­trated in ur­ban ar­eas. These new African con­sumers re­sem­ble their ur­ban coun­ter­parts any­where in the world: they are both brand and qual­ity con­scious, they seek out the lat­est trends but are bud­get con­scious, ac­cord­ing to a re­port byMcKin­sey & Co.

The con­sul­tancy pre­dicted that in the next few years, 40 per­cent of the growth in spend­ing power in Africa will be driven by house­holds with an av­er­age in­come of more than $20,000 a year.

The trend is well re­flected in lo­cal con­sumers’ de­sire for af­ford­able gad­gets. Africa’s smart­phone users over­lap sig­nif­i­cantly with its ris­ing con­sumer class.

Irene Njeri, the mar­ket­ing and sales man­ager of the Kenyan foot­ball web­site Fut­taa, bought her first Tecno smart­phone in 2013 be­cause the hand­set can of­fer many dif­fer­ent func­tions while the price is lower than other prod­ucts on the mar­ket.

“Most ofmy friends use Tecno phones in both low and high-end seg­ments,” she said.

Njeri re­lies on her smart­phone to per­form her of­fice work such as check­ing and send­ing emails, ac­cess­ing social me­dia sites and to make calls.

Ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey by Ju­mia Kenya, a Nige­rian on­line shop­ping site, Kenyans, like con­sumers in de­vel­oped coun­tries, are in­creas­ingly savvy and look­ing to get the best fea­tures for their money.

The sur­vey which was car­ried out in 2015 check­ing the growth of smart­phone mar­ket in Kenya, found that mem­ory, bat­tery life and the qual­ity of the hand­set’s cam­era are the top three ar­eas that most Kenyan con­sumers care about when buying smart­phones.

Only 44 per­cent of re­spon­dents said that the brand was an im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion in buying a phone.

Also, as smart­phones give more African con­sumers ac­cess to the in­ter­net, they are mi­grat­ing to e-com­merce sites to buy more af­ford­able gad­gets.

A sur­vey re­leased by Kenyan re­search firm e-En­sures in Jan­uary shows that mo­bile phones emerged as the most pop­u­lar items bought on­line, ac­count­ing for 58 per­cent of all or­ders. In com­par­i­son, fash­ion came a dis­tant sec­ond at 18 per­cent.

Sam­sung and Tecno phones were the most pop­u­lar brands with buy­ers, com­mand­ing more than 50 per­cent of the phone or­ders on­line.

Most of my friends use Tecno phones in both lowand high-end seg­ments.”

Con­tact the writ­ers through masi@chi­


Con­sumers check out smart­phones of Chi­nese brand Len­ovo at a shop in Nairobi, Kenya.

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