Infinix Corporation, specialised in manufacturing smartphones, is working to develop after-sales services in the Egyptian market and plans to increase the number of its major maintenance centres.
Business development manager at Infinix, Ahmed Wagih, told Daily News Egypt in an interview that the economic conditions in Egypt and the scarcity of US dollars have impacted the mobile market, as all companies were forced to raise the prices of their devices.
Infinix raised the prices of its devices by 3% on the back of the rise of the US dollar price against the Egyptian pound and the application of the value-added tax.
What are the key features of your plans in the Egyptian market?
Our strategy seeks to provide new technology for all segments of society, rather than an exclusive generation or a particular group, especially since the Egyptian market always looks forward to new technologies in the information technology sector.
How would you implement this vision?
We have been studying the market very well over the last two years, before and after releasing our products in Egypt, so as to identify the Egyptian customers’ technology requirements and to provide mobile phones at adequate prices that fit the local market.
How do you see the growth of your market share in Egypt?
The market’s current situation is unclear, especially since many rapid changes are affecting the market and the investment climate. These changes include the decisions of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) and governmental decisions, most recently crystallised in the imposition of the value-added tax (VAT).
What are the main smartphone specifications Egyptian customers want?
Our company conducted research which revealed that the main problem for Egyptian customers is short battery life. The research found that, if the customer uses the device heavily, all the batteries of smartphones in the Egyptian market need to be charged every four hours.
We focused on finding a solution and added a competitive advantage to our products. We worked on developing the hardware and software of our products, focusing more on the development of the software, and provided powerful batteries of up to 4,500 ampere.
The Egyptian customer also requires good software, which neither consumes much power nor disrupts the potential of the phone.
Based on the current circumstances, how do you evaluate the mobile market in Egypt?
There are many important changes in the Egyptian market, notably the imposition of VAT at a rate of 13%, while the sales tax used to be 10%.
In addition, we are facing a shortage in US dollars. The currency has two prices at the moment: the first is the official market and bank price at EGP 8.88 per US dollar, and the foreign currency is not available in this market. The other price is that of the informal market, which varies according to the supply and demand. These decisions and economic conditions directly affect the price of mobile phones for Infinix and other companies.
How are you dealing with the current situation?
We had to increase the prices of our mobile phones to keep up with the current circumstances, but we tried to limit these increases as much as possible, so as to ease the effects of the current economic situation on our customers. Several mobile phone brands increased their prices at high rates of up to 11%, while we increased our prices at a rate of only 3%. It is expected that the coming period will witness a new increase in the prices of mobile phones.
Did you consider expanding your investments by establishing a factory in Egypt?
We have some factories in a number of markets in Africa, but making this decision in the Egyptian market needs good planning, economic stability, and stability in the Egyptian pound’s price against the US dollar and other major currencies. If the monetary policy in Egypt changes and the pound becomes stable, we will work on establishing a factory in the Egyptian market.
Why is the parent company Transsion Holdings represented by two brands in Egypt’s mobile phones sector?
Transsion Holdings has presence in the Egyptian market through Tecno and Infinix with the aim of providing a wide base of products to the Egyptian consumer and facilitate obtaining devices with the needed capabilities at competitive prices. Each of the two companies has a separate research and development centre.
Additionally, the Egyptian market is large and we are working to obtain a good market share. Therefore, we are represented by two different factories affiliated to the same parent company. Tecno provides smart and traditional devices, while Infinix provides only smart devices.
What incentives should be provided to investors to manufacture in Egypt?
Egypt has elements that can make it a manufacturing centre in the Middle East and Africa. However, it is not an easy thing; there must be feeding industries for the mobile industry. Moreover, investment incentives must be offered to manufacturers to encourage them to manufacture locally.
We need stability in the monetary policy, as well as facilitated procedures and the elimination of bureaucracy. We hope that the government takes the smartphones industry into account, because they are no longer a luxury. Smartphones have become a necessity of life and a key factor in pushing the growth rates of the Egyptian economy.
The government is intending to float the Egyptian pound; how do you see the effect of that step on the market?
At the beginning, there will be negative effects and prices will inflate. However, with time, the pound will recover and return to its normal value.
What is the price segment of your products?
We have a wide base of smartphones that meet all needs of the Egyptian consumers and cover all social segments, starting from EGP 1,000 and reaching up to EGP 3,000.
What are your plans for after-sale services?
We are communicating with some centres specialised in sales to offer Infinix phones through them. This should help us spread in all governorates, especially since the company’s devices were only available online through some e-commerce platforms. Now, Infinix covers some governorates in Upper Egypt, as well as the Delta region and Alexandria.
Also, we have contracted with some maintenance centres to provide maintenance and warranty services for our products. Moreover, we offer our customers to pick up their devices that need maintenance from their residence, repair them, and return them for free. We are planning to establish a major maintenance centre in each governorate in Egypt; now, we have five major maintenance centres in a number of governorates, in addition to 50 sub-centres.
What is the size of the Egyptian market’s sales of smartphones?
Sales of smartphones represent about 30-40% of the mobile devices’ sales in the Egyptian market which amounts to about 17m units annually.
What impact would the 4G services launch have on the mobile market in Egypt?
It will have a significant positive impact, will contribute to increasing the market’s sales strongly, and will help users of traditional phones switch to smartphones.