Huawei changes Kenya plot with low-cost phones

Business Daily (Kenya) - - CORPORATE NEWS - Reuters

China’s Huawei Tech­nolo­gies has changed its strat­egy in Kenya this month to show­case an af­ford­able $100-200 range of smart­phones, hop­ing the in­creased sales will boost its lo­cal mar­ket share, the com­pany’s coun­try man­ager said yes­ter­day.

Huawei is ranked num­ber three in the fast-grow­ing lo­cal smart de­vices mar­ket, be­hind South Korea’s Sam­sung Elec­tron­ics and Tecno, owned by Hong Kong’s Trans­sion Hold­ings. Derek Du, the lo­cal boss of Huawei, said the com­pany had started of­fer­ing three smart­phones with retail prices start­ing at Sh8,999 ($87) to Sh22,999 ($220), as part of a strat­egy to lift its mar­ket share in that seg­ment from four per cent to 15 per cent. “We did not pay at­ten­tion to the mod­els be­low $200 but this year we are chang­ing the strat­egy to fo­cus on both,” he said.

Sa­fari­com, the big­gest op­er­a­tor with 72 per cent mar­ket share or 28 mil­lion users, said there are 13 mil­lion smart­phones on its net­work, up from 10 mil­lion last year.

Con­sumers have been giv­ing up their well-worn fea­ture phones to take ad­van­tage of rel­a­tively fast In­ter­net speeds and ap­pli­ca­tions such as What­sapp and those that fa­cil­i­tate bank­ing and taxi-hail­ing ser­vices.

The new fo­cus on the lower end of the mar­ket came about be­cause the Kenyan con­sumer is “price-sen­si­tive”, Du said. “The $100-200 this is the key part we can play. If we can bring it up, it means we will also bring up the whole mar­ket share,” Du said.

He said that will help the firm to boost its over­all mar­ket share to 25-30 per cent, from the cur­rent 14 per cent, in the next two years. The an­nual av­er­age Kenyan wage is $1,200 (Sh123,600), of­fi­cial fig­ures show, so most peo­ple can­not af­ford ex­pen­sive smart­phones.

Huawei pre­vi­ously fo­cused on mid-range smart­phones, where it has a 30 per cent mar­ket share.

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