A number of reports have put the African Mobile subscribers at over 1 billion, which is huge by any stretch of the imagination. Across Africa, are a number of challenges, but along the way, are a number of opportunities. This is owing to the growing youthful population, who are becoming connected in droves. Mobile telephony is already making life easy for many Africans because they can now transact various banking and other forms of business activities, using their Mobile phones.
I had a very interesting discussion recently, with Patrick Henchie, Head of Product, Sub-Sahara Africa, HMD Global, who shared his thoughts on Mobile trends in Africa and how Africans can fully maximize these opportunities.
Patrick is of the opinion that, the current, young African generation is important to the future. These segments of the population, he opined, are all about Mobile. “Africa is a phone first. Everything happens, if it is not on Mobile, it’s just not relevant,” Patrick observed. On whether the various governments in Africa are doing enough to maximize these opportunities, Patrick thinks that they are trying their best to do so. He observed that it all depends on their dispensation to a number of factors, ranging from availability of adequate infrastructures to support the networks, the networks themselves, phones, support, etc. “If you see the way it has grown, there certainly, has been a lot of input and a lot of development in it”, he stated.
Patrick pointed out that everybody sees the benefits in Mobile, when a network erupts and the social uplifting that follows it. He went on to correct the notion flying around that Nokia earlier left the shores of Africa. “Nokia has never left. I think we need to correct talks about that,” he reiterated. He pointed out some of the activities that it had engaged in, in the African markets all these while. Patrick pointed out that Nigeria is still a huge market with opportunities for Feature phones, as he distinguished between a Feature phone and Smartphone. He reeled out some of the qualities of a Feature phone, chief of which is long battery life and this, in his opinion, is one of the major features that people look for when shopping for a Mobile device to buy.
Speaking of competition, he stated that competition and comparison of Mobile phones will always be there, based on reliability, looks, etc. On the functionality of smartphones these days, Patrick emphasized that these have since moved on from just being smart to be a tool for usage in the hands of people. He stated that these days, security measures are installed on devices as users are always interested in being safe when using their devices.
On the quality of products that his company is offering to the Nigerian market, Patrick stated that the company is committed to building a product that is going to be durable and long-lasting as well as have a second-hand value. He commended the activities at the Computer Village. “It’s like no other place I’ve ever been on earth. I think you engage every one of your senses when you’re in the Computer Village”, he opined.
On transfer of knowledge by his company to the locals, Patrick stated that his company has a team on ground in Nigeria, some of whom work for the company, while some others serve as Distributor partners and Wholesale partners and all of these set of people are educated for passing on the knowledge down to the populace. “There is a rare culture of sharing and openness in the team,” he concluded.