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Africa gets its first smartphone manufacturing facility in Nigeria

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While mobile phone penetration has been rapidly increasing throughout Africa for several years, until now, all the smartphones sold on the continent were imported from overseas. However, as AfriOne opens up its first smartphone production factory on the continent, the hope is that the flourishing technology can provide greater employment opportunities for the next generation.

The First in Africa

Mobile phones have become an integral part of life for many people, and the proliferation across Africa has increased rapidly in recent years. In Nigeria, the market penetration has surged and investments in the telecoms sector skyrocketed by 6400% in the past 4 years. With such growth, it is no surprise that Africa’s first smartphone production unit has found its home in Nigeria.

The company AfriOne has established the factory in Nigeria’s Lagos Free Zone with an initial investment of $10 million. The plant will begin producing 120,000 units per month; however the company is confident that the facility will eventually produce as many as 300,000 products per month.

The new range of smartphones will cost between $92 and $108 and are aimed at Nigeria’s middle income consumers. AfriOne’s parent company, Contec Global, intends to open up a second production unit as it continues its expansion.

The investment seeks to capitalize on the huge expansion in e-commerce within the region. E-commerce is predicted to account for 10% of all retail sales in Nigeria by 2025, and consultant group McKinsey estimates it could be producing $75 billion in annual revenue by this time.

The 20,000 square foot production facility includes a Research & Development (R&D) department and testing laboratories. Mr. Sahih Berry, AfriOne’s Founder and CEO, said that the company has a goal to “democratize technology, by offering affordable innovations through our product offerings and removing barriers deterring the large scale adoption of advanced technology in Nigeria.”

By Nigerians, For Nigerians

The unveiling of a facility such as AfriOne’s new smartphone production unit offers immediate job opportunities as well as the obvious increase in options for the Nigerian consumer. AfriOne’s Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Sandeep Natu, told the press that the factory will initially employ around 500 people. Both the company and government officials are hopeful that the long term benefits of the operation will be more far-reaching.

Contec Global’s Managing Director, Mr. Roheen Berry, said that the company is dedicated to increasing opportunities for young Nigerians through a policy of Corporate Social Responsibility.

Mr. Berry explained that the facility will have various training programs for young men and women working at AfriOne, and added, “We are tangibly investing in Nigeria’s future through AfriOne, while providing a valuable skill set to its workforce that will facilitate continued innovation in Nigeria’s emerging, dynamic and robust market.”

The Nigerian government believes that the venture will not only create immediate employment opportunities, but will help foster a culture of innovation and technology within Lagos that could lead to greater long term growth. Lagos State Governor, Akinwumi Ambode, announced the plant’s opening at a press conference in which he expressed hope that this would lead to the city of Lagos create a 24-hour economy.

Mr. Ambode also discussed AfriOne’s commitment to working with a local college, Lagos State Polytechnic, for the maintenance and repair of mobile devices. He said, “The collaboration with Afrione will be of immense benefits to these students and the State.”

The factory promises to offer these students practical experience within the field of telecommunications and mobile technology, thus spreading the potential impact on future job creation far beyond the direct employment within the plant.

Lagos State Government already had a youth training initiative in place, known as the Empowerment Trust Fund, and Mr. Ambode believes that, “AfriOne’s collaboration will complement efforts by the Lagos State government in ensuring that these youths are empowered.”

Nigeria currently has around 154 million mobile phone users, and e-commerce and mobile banking are both rapidly growing sectors within the West African nation. As these markets continue to grow and attract investment, a domestic center for the production of the medium needed to access these fields may seem long overdue. AfriOne assured press that the phones would use cutting edge technology and would come with popular African apps for banking and farming already installed.

AfriOne will be looking to expand its production base quickly, and the local government hopes that further development provides an ongoing boost to economic growth and employment.

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Recession looms as South Africa’s manufacturing, mining contract

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s manufacturing output resumed its decline and mining production contracted as weak global demand pushed the country’s ailing economy closer to a recession.

Manufacturing production shrank 2 percent in March and mining output plunged by 18 percent – the most on record – figures from Statistics South Africa showed on Thursday.

“The economy is very weak, and with these set of figures, we’re looking at the possibility of a contraction in the first quarter,” said Dennis Dykes, the chief economist at Nedbank.

South Africa’s economy grew 1.3 percent last year and 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter, and in its February budget, the National Treasury lowered its forecast for 2016 to 0.9 percent from 1.7 percent. The International Monetary Fund has cut its outlook for 2016 to 0.6 percent.

All three major ratings agencies have cited weak growth and policy upheavals as major risks to South Africa’s investment-grade rating.

Last Friday, Moody’s maintained the country’s Baa2 rating but with a negative outlook. Fitch and Standard & Poor’s rate the country’s debt just one notch above sub-investment grade and are due to revisit the ratings in June.

“You go back to brass tacks and ask if government is sending the right signals when it comes to a stable policy environment. But you look at sectors like mining and agriculture and the policy environment there is terrible,” Dykes said.

Last year, South Africa recorded its lowest annual rainfall since comprehensive records began in 1904, as an El Nino-driven drought ripped through the region, putting millions at risk of food shortages.

The government and mining companies have been deadlocked for years over proposed changes to the Mining Charter that will require the companies to keep black ownership at 26 percent.

South Africa, one of the world’s biggest metals producers, has been hit by a slide in commodities prices that has come on top of widespread labour unrest among miners.

“We need to be cognisant that our mining sector is under pressure and that it’s a global theme,” said Elna Moolman, an economist at Maquire First Securities. “We need to look for alternatives. And given that we are very strong in the services, this is an area we need to focus on.”

Moolman said an increased focus on tourism, which has already benefited from a weaker currency, and upping the export financial and business services would help lift the economy.



(By Mfuneko Toyana. Editing by James Macharia, Larry King)


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South Africa’s February manufacturing output up 1.9% y/y

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Manufacturing output grew by 1.9 percent year-on-year in February after contracting by a revised 2.6 percent in January, Statistics South Africa said on Thursday.

On a month-on-month basis, factory production was up 1.3 percent, but was down 0.3 percent in the three months to February compared with the previous three months.

A Reuters poll of economists had expected the headline figure to show manufacturing shrinking by 2.1 percent.


(Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by James Macharia)

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