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Chinese mobile phones sell well in Africa

Jessica, a salesgirl in a phone shop in the business district of Dares Salaam, the capital city of Tanzania, said Africans love Chinese mobile phones because of their low price, excellent photography features and big screen.

The latest phone from Tecno is the most popular, selling for 800,000 Tanzanian shillings, or RMB 2400. It is a lot cheaper than other brands like Samsung and Apple.

A research finds that Tecno have sold more than 50 million phones in the first half of the year in Africa, with 11 million belonging to smart phones. Tecno turns out to be the biggest smart phone brand in Africa, overrtaking Samsung from Korea. Last year, Tecno phones led the market with a 38 percent share.

Teenager Hassan owns a Tecno phone with a large screen, which is his second Tecno phone. He paid 270,000 Tanzanian dollars for it, which is equal to a month’s salary. “China is the biggest phone manufacturing country in the world. Everybody trusts and depends on China products and brands,” he said.

In Africa, using large-screen phone is a symbol of identity and status, but not many people can afford it. In order to get into the African market, Tecno has developed a photo-taking software specially for African consumers. In highlighting the eyes and teeth and strengthening the exposure, the software is popular among African consumers.

Tecno has also strengthened the function of playing music since it knows Africans love dancing and singing. “If you don't use Tecno phones, you are behind the times. Everyone is craving for Chinese brands,” Hassan said.

An analyst points out that Tecno increases its competitiveness by developing new functions. It has developed a network of agents to capture the heart of African consumers.

Tecno is not the only successful case. Five Chinese brands have been selected as among the top 100 popular brands in Africa by African Brand Network in the year of 2016 to 2017. Huawai, Startimes, Tecno and its subsidiary brands Itel and infinix have made the list. Tecno is ranked fourteenth, which is higher than Pepsi and Microsoft.

Compared to 24 American brands in the top 100, Chinese brands are trailing, but they are on a par with other Japanese and German brands, being grouped in the second tier.

The industry said China’s entry is inducive to African economic development. Take telecommunications industry as an example, in the past, stations set up by US and European companies charged exorbitant fees. When Huawei entered the African market, it helped depress costs and African companies could then build more stations using the money saved. As a result, more and more people can make use of the internet. With an upgraded telecommunications infrastructure, more foreign capital is being attracted to Africa, making a huge impact on the economy.

One Sudan telecommunications company senior manager Elba said Chinese brands products were considered cheap with average quality in the past. However, more Chinese brands are changing consumers' mind with their improved performances. “Chinese brands are becoming stronger and stronger,” he said. He added that Chinese brands are performing better, creating a new mindset on technology for Africans.

Some analysts point out Chinese brands are on a fast track following improvements in performance and technological applications. The image of ‘Made in China’ is changing, and Chinese products are fast gaining the trust of African people.