China’s Huawei Technologies has changed its strategy in Kenya this month to showcase an affordable $100-200 range of smart phones, hoping the increased sales will boost its local market share, the company’s country manager said on Thursday (September 14).
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 smart phones with retail prices starting at 8,999 shillings ($87) to 22,999 shillings ($220), as part of a strategy to lift its market share in that segment from 4 percent to 15 percent.
“This year, why we focus on this we found that Kenya market is price sensitive market and also entry level smartphone is popular here. So we also from this year not only launch high level we also in Kenya the market size is also the biggest so we highlighted this,” he said.
Safaricom, the biggest operator with 72 percent market share or 28 million users, said there are 13 million smart phones 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.
He said the new strategy will help the firm to boost its overall market share to 25-30 percent, from the current 14 percent, in the next two years.
“Actually we are growing a bit slow than our competitors like Samsung, Tecno and actually our market share is only 14 percent so we want to approach higher but actually Kenyan market is hard to say, its a different market in a low cost level,” said Du.
Huawei previously focused on the mid-range of smart phones, where it has a 30 percent market share. It also sells the premium “Mate” series phones in the Kenyan market for the well-heeled.
Huawei, which is based in Shenzhen, China, competes with Apple and other devices vendors for global consumers.
“They trend like right now we have launched the mid range phones where people do love them they move like daily we could sell like 10 to 20 phones,” said sales rep, Anthony Makau.
“Its nice its not that much expensive, its good, the price is ok, not expensive, actually right now am going to look for something and then I come for it,” said Bill Koremo, a customer.
The annual average Kenyan wage is $1,200, official figures show, so most people cannot afford expensive smart phones.