While not necessarily of a substandard status, over 90 per cent of phones in Nigeria are disclosed to be imported from China. This was stated by Mr. Simon Onyeka, Chairman of GSM Village, a phone market in Ikeja, Lagos during an interview with INDEPENDENT.
Onyeka said a lot of economic challenges have impeded the production of phones in Nigeria over the years which made some Office Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) to build their plants in other countries not having huge market like Nigeria.
According to him, “Virtually, over 90% of phones come from China- both fake and original phones. This is so, because, the cost for labour is cheap, they have their factories there. These phones are also being produced under the supervision of the original owners.
“But here in Nigeria, labour is cheap, but the system of government and economic environment do not favour the production of equipment like phones. Some of these impediments include: lack of good infrastructure, unstable power supply and inadequate security which are the reasons, companies such as Samsung, prefer to establish in South Africa and Ghana instead of establishing in Nigeria.”
China is also known as the largest market in terms of mobile phone subscribers. Its GSM and mobile phone industry has high growth rate. In the year 2014, 167,371,945 was the total production of GSM phones in Nigeria market. In 2016, China recorded 1,321,930,000 productions of GSM phones.
Onyeka urged the government to up its game of empowering the youths who are creative in technology so as to make significant mark in the ICT sector.
In his words: “There are people in GSM Village, Computer Village and other ICT hubs who have the knowledge of producing phones themselves, but they have not got that enabling environment and support that can help them complete their endeavours. Two fundamental things most of them need are power supply and finance. If there is fund and steady power supply, what people would be looking for will be less, because the mentality is there.’
Appreciating the immense contribution of the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM), Onyeka said GSM revolution has offered employment to many Nigerians since its inception in 2001.
”Most graduates have been able to secure job opportunities and the various method of business today has enhanced rapidly through the use of GSM. Nigerians should be grateful to Obasanjo’s administration; because, as at today, GSM offers employment to not less than 25 million Nigerians directly and indirectly. Though the idea did not come during Obansanjo’s administration, it was said to be introduced during Abacha’s regime. Then, Abacha licensed only one company in Nigeria, while the licensing of three companies, namely Econet Wireless, MTN and MTEL was by Obasanjo in 2001.”
He stressed that the current government and future ones should learn a few things from Obasanjo’s administration in attending to critical services that make impact in the lives of the citizens and ensure that the country leapfrogs in the technology space so as to compete favourably in the comity of nations.
“There is need for exponential growth in GSM and telecommunications, because many of our people are using phone now than ever before. Since the world is talking about Internet of Things and artificial intelligence with which people can virtually do whatever they want with their phones, there is need for more development,” he added.