By Prince Osuagwu
SEVERAL researchers have consistently attributed the influx of substandard mobile phones in Nigeria to cost. Users require mobile phones whose costs would not put a hole in their pockets. Unfortunately, some business men have latched on this demand to flood the market with substandard mobile phones which end up leaving the users frustrated in no time.
However, Chairman, Mansales Limited, Engr Elens Eigbokhan in this interview said his company has countered this trend with the introduction of Konka mobiles, a Chinese mobile phone maker with a mandate to make quality mobile phones that would be cost friendly as well as giving value for money to users.
Why did Mansales bring Konka to Nigeria despite scores of mobile OEMs here?
Konka is the first generation of China’s consumer electronics products and mobile phones company that is rated among the top 10 of China’s well known trademarks and the top three most valuable Chinese electronics brand.
We partnered Konka Mobile in order to address the issue of substandard mobile phones that are presently selling in the Nigerian market. Nigerians are mistaking them for quality phones, only to regret it after a few months of usage. We also partnered Konka Mobile to further deepen smartphone penetration in Nigeria.
What we have done with Konka, is to open a trusted channel where Nigerians could buy quality and genuine mobile phones that will not only give them value for money, but will also meet their social and communication needs.
So what kind of partnership do you have with Konka Mobile?
Our partnership with Konka is sole distributorship. Mansales will be distributing Konka phones in Nigeria and the rest of West Africa, and out partnership deal forbids us to distribute other brands of mobile phone within the West African countries. The reason for this is to enable us develop the brand and make Nigerians and Africans enjoy reliable and true quality phones that are durable with long battery life.
To do this you’ll need to battle grey market?
We have factored that in during the planning stage. We are aware of grey market, where dealers smuggle branded phones that were not meant to be sold in a particular region, through unauthorised channels, and we are also very much aware of the deluge of substandard phones in the Nigerian market, and what we have done to address the challenge, is to provide a unique identity number for each Konka phone that will be distributed in Nigeria and that number could be tracked online to find out whether the phone is genuine or not. The number is visibly written on the phone and customers have the right to track the number online before purchase. If customers are well educated on this, they will not be tricked into buying fake Konka phones, and if customers always insist on buying genuine Konka phones, then those that may want to sell Konka phones through the grey market, will have a rethink.
We will also have authorised channel distributors of Konka phones in various parts of the country who will be marketing genuine Konka phones.
How do you intend to cope with competition?
Competition is key to any business and as competition grows, those brands of phone with good quality and robust products will always stand the test of time. So our quality will always stand us out in the face of competition and Nigerians will love the brand because of the quality and features it has. So we are not afraid of competition because we have quality products and our products will come as an eye-opener to Nigerians when they begin to experience true quality of mobile phones.
Our phones are robust and we maintain high quality for every manufactured phone. We are different from other vendors, because we manufacture our phones right from our factories, while most brands manufacture elsewhere and then assemble them under a brand name, which does not guarantee quality. Konka manufactures every part of the phone, including the motherboard, screen, casings, battery and this guarantees quality, because we have a brand name to protect.
There is a general belief that products from China are of lesser quality?
Let me tell you something. Before the partnership agreement between Konka Mobile and Mansales was signed, I had visited China more than 35 times, doing different types of engineering businesses, because I am a trained engineer by profession.
The general perception that products from China are of lesser quality, is a misconception. Today, China has grown to become one of the most technological advance countries of the world and they have been known for quality products. What happened is that China has a large population of workforce and the cost of labour is cheaper in China than most countries where products are manufactured. So most people who want to cut cost, will deliberately ask for reduced quality in their specifications and because the labour is readily available in the country, the manufacturers there will produce, based on the specifications and quality they were asked to produce.
Most Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) of mobile phones do not maintain equal standard in different markets?
My response to this question will be similar to my previous response on the perception of low quality being associated with China products. Again, those who want to maximise profits by cutting down on their cost, will always go to China where there is cheap labour and deliberately ask the manufacturers for lesser quality, which they will distribute and sell in some regions.
The same company will also ask for quality products and will be prepared to pay the cost and they will sell the products in some specialised markets. This is discriminate sales and Konka is not part of such unwholesome business.
Does Mansales have plans to market other Konka products in the near future?
Yes we have such plan in the pipeline. What we want to do is to first position the mobile phone business and make it a brand name in Nigeria, before we will start distributing and selling other consumer electronics products from the Konka Group. We want to encourage Konka and position it as a household brand in Nigeria.
How will this impact on the Nigerian economy?
It will impact on the Nigerian economy in several ways. By the time we perfect all these plans, we will be able to achieve transfer of technology from China to Nigeria, create jobs for Nigerians and through our sales of Konka products in Nigeria, we will be able to contribute to the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) of the country, because with time, Konka will want to establish its manufacturing plant in Nigeria, depending on the volume of sales that we make from the country. Above all, the impact will translate to integrity and value for money.
What are the unique features of Konka phones that will want to attract Nigerians to it?
Konka is known for quality and the qualities are imbedded in the features of the phone. The price is affordable, the battery life is long and can retain charging for a longer period of time.
The phone has attractive features that makes it easier for consumers to connect to the internet, the casing is sleek and the screen is bold, with the quality to resist shock and crack, when heavy object drops on it, or when it suddenly drops from a distance.
The phones come with gorilla tempered glass, which makes it difficult for customers to experience broken screen. It has three magnet speakers with 8mp front camera that can take sharp photos from between 72 to 88 degrees angle view and it supports dual SIM cards and SD cards. It is a smartphone that comes very sleek and light, because it is made of very light stainless steel plates. It has a standby battery of 4000mAh, which allows users to experience a long battery life of the smartphone for up to three days, when fully charged. It is an android based phone that runs on Android 5.1 operating system and is compatible with 2G, 3G and 3.75G networks, with a central processing unit (CPU) of 1.3GHz Quad core processor that allows for high speed downloads and connectivity.