Xiaomi is headed to Africa – well, to parts of it, anyway. Official distributors of the Chinese brand are opening their doors to the public through an official distributor, Mobile In Africa, who will service 3 countries (Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria), and all this is scheduled for this month.
It’s a big deal largely because Xiaomi has played a major role in defining the market for smartphones in its home country, China wherer it commands astroing presence, comepting aggressively with Huawei and Apple.
The brand has been hugely successful there, securing a solid position as the second largest phone distributor in the largest phone market in the world. That’s not too bad for a brand that is often viewed as an imitator of Apple.
In Africa it will square up against leaders like Samsung, Huawei and Nokia, as well as budget phone brands like Tecno, GTeL and Astro that are also scrambling for a slice of the continent.
While we wait for that African presence to be more than just three countries, Africom, a local Internet Access Provider is already selling Xiaomi. According to the Africom website, $250 will get you a Xiaomi Redrice.
This is a midrange device and one of the two that Xiaomi is ddebuting in this part of the world. It comes with a quad-core 1.5 GHz processor, 8 MP Dual LED Flash camera with WiFi functionality and running on Android JellyBean.
Considering that this is a Xiaomi, these are hardly the sort of specs that warrant a $250 price tag, something that Africom and every other local distributor keen on selling the brand will have to consider. Outside our borders it has a price tag of $120 so Africom probably added its own marginal considerations to end up at that price.
But distributors have to remember that besides packing decent specs and features into its devices, Xiaomi is popular for selling phones that can compete with other household brands at a fraction of the cost. That’s the value proposition that most consumers in Africa familiar with the brand will be chasing.
Granted, we have a 25% import duty that is charged on mobile device shipments, but that shouldn’t be enough to justify pricing that leaves Xiaomi phones in the same price range as the brands that it is already disrupting in every other market.
In any case, that’s not much of debate for now. We’ll wait and see how the rest of the market prices Xiaomi when the phones do make it to most of retailers’ doorsteps.