China’s Huawei targets South Africa’s high-end smartphone market

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To fulfil its ambition to be the biggest seller of high-end smartphones in South Africa by the end of 2019, Huawei Technologies, is building two distribution warehouses and a research and development lab in the country. The Chinese company is looking to South Africa to expand its footprint in Africa.

The phone and telecommunications equipment provider, which recently usurped Apple to become the world’s second largest smartphone maker, ranks third in South Africa- behind Samsung and Apple, in terms of sales of smartphones priced at $600 and above.

As part of its growth strategy, Huawei will partner with Discovery Health, the biggest medical aid scheme in South Africa, which serves more than 3 million customers and runs one of the country’s best known reward programmes. The partnership will help Huawei launch its health focused cloud service in South Africa in 2019. The service will give consumers tips to improve their health based on their heart rate and other data.

Head of Huawei’s device business in South Africa, Zhao Likun, said “this year we estimate our shipments will exceed 2 million in South Africa, next year will be more. We want to achieve the number one or two position in high-end market share”.

The company ranks South Africa among its most valuable markets and plans for its new warehouses in Johannesburg to open in early 2019. Huawei also said it would make its products and software more relevant to the Africa market by, for example, improving facial recognition software to better identify black people.

During an interview, Zhao noted that “if you meet the needs of the local consumer, you will win this market”. He also said Huawei will run an innovation programme in South Africa in 2019. The programme will be partly focused on encouraging local start-ups to develop artificial intelligence enabled applications for its global platforms.




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