African countries are in the spotlight once gain as demand in Africa for IT related products like computer hardware, peripherals and accessories continues to grow with the passing of each year. A large portion of this demand is being serviced by Dubai-based computer companies – both traders and manufacturers.
As a result, many computer vendors in Dubai have been keen to set up distribution channels in African countries to capture the growing market in countries like Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan and Ghana.
Acer recently announced it will earn US$3.5 million from a contract to supply desktops to the education authorities in Ethiopia. In another such deal, Acer Computer (M.E) will be delivering 1,800 high-end desktops and notebooks to the Tunisian Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Ministry of Technology (MOT). Acer has already supplied 4,758 desktops to the Tunisia as part of the deal. “This deal is not just a significant milestone for Acer, it is a reflection of the strength and presence of Acer as a brand, especially with educational institutions across the region,” said Mohammed Hilili, country sales manager, North & West Africa, Acer Computer, (M.E).
Another Dubai-based company, Pro Technology is also targetting new and emerging markets in Africa and has recently opened a new showroom in Libya. The company already has an office in Sudan.
On the other hand, Creative is in the process of identifying reliable distribution partners in Africa. According to recent reports, top executives in Creative’s Singapore headquarters have instructed Creative’s Middle East office to explore possibilities of developing distribution channels in lucrative African markets such as Nigeria, Ghana, Konya, Sudan and Ethiopia.
Cisco and Toshiba have also been in the news recently for appointing authorised distributors to develop channels in specific African markets.
Although there are many computer vendors in Africa, many companies are now realising the importance of the African market and its potential in the coming years and are now eager to penetrate these markets through proper distribution and marketing channels.
Yes, Africa is a tricky market and getting a foothold in African markets is not as easy as it sounds. Problems exist – low purchasing power of the average consumer, trade barriers, high import duties and the challenge of making your mark in African countries have made many suppliers rethink their plans of entering the African markets. But many see an opportunity where others see a challenge. Dubai-based computer vendors such as Microsim, Hatta Computers,, Tangerine Computers,, Datacare, HMP Computers have been doing business with African countries for a long time now – having recognised the long-term potential of the African markets. These companies have established themselves as leading suppliers of computer hardware, peripherals and accessories to many African countries.
There is a twist in the tale though. Many big multinational computer companies feel unsure about the prospect of developing direct distribution channels in Africa. As it is, their products are being sold in substantially large quantities to African customers through their authorised agents in Dubai. Re-exports of IT products to Africa from Dubai is a lucrative business for the authorised agents for large multinational brands. Bypassing their authorised agents and selling directly into the African markets might have an adverse impact on their overall sales in the Middle East as Dubai has served as a distribution centre and a business hub serving the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region.
Will these IT giants opt to stay within their re-export and sub-distribution routes or will they prefer to sell directly into African markets remains to be seen.IT