Business Hilights
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Fears of SA’s AG Mobile poor sales in Africa can weaken Egypt’s SICO smartphone

Strong indications have emerged on the readiness of Egypt’s first smartphone maker, Silicon Industries Corporation (SICO) to enter the rather stiff African market soon to boost exports.
However, the inability of South Africa’s first smartphone maker, AG Mobile which entered the market with its premium products about four years ago may be a big issue for consideration.
Business Hilights recalls that AG Mobile had launched its product in Nigeria in 2015, but sales performance had been abysmal leading to the closure of several outlets in Nigeria in less than two years of entry.
Investigations showed that African smartphone market had been saturated with India and Chinese cheap products and the entire market segment is being pressured so much by influx of refurbished high quality smartphones from London and parts of Europe.
However, the Sales Director of SICO, Mahmoud Ali is optimistic in the company’s Africa wide expansion, saying SICO products are already on sale in the Gulf region with the aim of entering key African markets.
Key markets on target by SICO according to Ali include Nigeria, Kenya, Morocco and the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Mozambique and Ghana.
He said “It’s a promising market and there’s much less competition than in the Gulf,” Ali said, noting there is a big demand for affordable phones in Africa.
“He said he mostly expected to sell smartphones in the 50 to 60 dollars price range to African customers outside Egypt.
SICO, which was set up last year with capital of 150 million Egyptian pounds (8.4 million dollars), sells phones under the brand name Nile X.
It said that it uses a Chinese design of 3G/4G U.S. technology.
Private investors hold 80 per cent of the company and the remaining 20 per cent is held by Egypt’s Ministry of Communication.
In 2019 the company aims to export 40 per cent of its production and keep 60 per cent local, Ali said.
It also wants to expand its market share in Egypt from 12 per cent to 15 per cent in 2019.
Ali said it was too early to set a sales target for exports to African countries, but expected to export more to customers in Africa than in the Gulf next year.
“We are still entering the market and talking to people.
“We are working with several operators and hoping that the phones will be available at their branches at the end of 2018 or early 2019’’.
Besides, the company expects to triple its total production from 500,000 units in 2018 to 1.5 million units in 2019, Ahmad el-Sawaf, SICO’s international business development manager said.
Continuing, he averred that of the 1.5 million, 900,000 would be sold in Egypt while 600,000 would be sold abroad, adding that the company targets sales of 400 million pounds this year, tripling to 1.2 billion pounds next year.
“The target for 2020 is 2.5 billion pounds, he said.
“The smartphone maker plans to introduce new phones next year, offering a total of 14 products.
“SICO currently offers six products, including smartphones and a tablet,’’ Ali said.