By EMEKA AGINAM
While the market for mobile phone continues to grow in geometric progression in Nigeria where the demand is so high, there appears to be fresh battle for market supremacy among Original Equipment Manufacturers, (OEMs) .
Just recently, the Mobile Phone Dealers Association of Nigeria had some grey areas in their business relationship with TECNO Mobiles. However, the phone dealers had alleged that the TECNO brand which is already the toast of many Nigerians was scheming to corner a greater percentage of the market share.
The phone dealers have also alleged that TECNO was behind a recent action by the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), where several substandard and unapproved mobile phones were discovered and confiscated from the market.
The phone dealers it was gathered, had demanded that the Chief Executive Officer of TECNO should come to Nigeria to address them one on one.
This development, it was further gathered had led to the pulling down some banners and bill boards proclaiming the Tecno brand in the Computer Village by the phone dealers who also alleged that their profit margins from Tecno has dropped.
With this development, TECNO Mobile, has called for dialogue to address the current market misunderstanding between it and phone dealers in the Computer Village Market in Ikeja, Lagos.
Reacting to the development, the Public Relations Manager, Marketing Department, TECNO telecom Limited in an email to Vanguard Hi-Tech said that the allegations were not true.
“Tecno products are good quality products, we don’t have any problem with the SON, just with competitors who are launching many rumors on Tecno to break our brand image” he explained.
However, TECNO is suing for peace, calling for a meeting with officials of the association where all the issues would be tabled, discussed and settled amicably. Accordingly, the phone maker has asked officials of the association to bury their hatchet and make themselves available for discussion.
But market watchers have reasoned that the current posture of phone dealers may have been masterminded by a competing brand in the market as a result of current struggle for market supremacy among all kinds of brands which may not have been type-approved by the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC.
“Tecno is a strong brand in the market. I do not see the reason why phone dealers should say that Tecno is trying to control the market. We are in a free market environment. A good brand like Tecno will always sell itself. A new brand who sees Tecno as a threat is behind the current market impasse, I can ell you this” an official of Computer and Allied Product Dealers Association of Nigeria, CAPDAN who pleaded anonymity told Vanguard Hi-Tech in an interaction at the weekend.
According to him, SON may have visited the market based on its statutory function as a regulatory authority and not on the invitation of TECNO.
Meanwhile, efforts to contact the president of phone dealers, Mr. Godfrey Iyke Nwosu for comment failed as at press time but he had been quoted in a media report as saying that Tecno was skimming to control a greater percentage of the market share.
But the Deputy General Manager, TECNO Nigeria, Mr. Chidi Okonkwo while reacting to this development in a press conference last week said that the allegations were not true even as it called for discussion with the phone dealers to address the issue.
“The issue can be addressed peacefully. The phone dealers have not approached us formally for discussion but I have met with the President of the phone dealers who expressed his anger saying TECNO was trying to control the market.
“SON is a regulatory agency in Nigeria. We cannot invite SON to perform its legitimate duties.We make sure that our products conform with SON standard. It is not true that we invited SON to clamp down on the market. We have tried to maintain relationship with our channel partners.
This is something we can handle within ourselves without ordering our Chief Executive Officer to come to Nigeria from China, and we are willing to enter into dialogue with them, in order to address the issues amicably. We also want to know exactly what the real issues are.
“The issue at stake is not clear to us. The grouse of phone dealers association is not clear and their demand for the physical presence of our Chief Executive Officer is not well defined. The President said that they will not discuss with us except the CEO comes to Nigeria. If they come to us formally and clearly, we are ready for discussion.
“They removed our billboards without telling us. We noticed some form of attacks on our barnds by removing our sign post. There are rival brands that are behind this problems..
Our brand is profitable to the phone dealers. TECNO is one of the most profitable brand for the phone dealers. We have created profit in the brand. Equitable distribution of the products is what we are doing. What we are doing is to satisfy our channels partners” he explained.