Before the days of low-quality Chinese feature phones and the emergence of android, only brand new and used (mostly stolen) quality mobile devices shipped down to Africa. Nokia and blackberry dominated Africa markets as they did throughout the world, albeit with expensive price tags. The expensive price tags meant people who couldn’t afford these devices didn’t have these devices at all.
The emergence of android meant both of these manufactures closed shop. In the emergence of android, Nokia went the Microsoft way, while on the other hand, RIM (Research in Motion) arrogantly stayed with its doomed-to-fail blackberry OS. Android is known and meant to run on basically almost anything, and this meant anything cheap too. Being open source (which simply meant anyone could freely use it without paying a dime in royalty or licensing) meant every Tom, Dick, and Harry could put android OS on their devices.
Having read what looks like a bit of a back story in the beginning of this article, in the next few paragraphs, you’ll be knowing three reasons why Africans will keep purchasing terrible low-budget devices!
Lack of regulatory bodies
One of the reasons why low-quality consumer electronics keep flooding the African market is lack of institutions required to regulate products that enters the market. The picture below shows the regulatory body of countries with strong institutions which regulates consumer electronics that enters their territory. When you look closely, you will find signs of regulatory institutions from the US, Canada, Europe, Brazil, Costa Rica, Argentina, Columbia, and Mexico.
The signs of these regulatory bodies are embedded in every device found in these countries. The sample picture in this article is that of an iPhone. To find that of your device manufacturer, look into your device settings. If you can’t find these regulatory certifications, this only means your device didn’t pass the certification tests and not fit for use. Many of these devices are found in Africa!
All-round bad economy
Many things can be linked to a bad economy, and low-quality products flooding a market is one of many. Across Africa, standard of living is low, same as purchasing power of currencies, and without doubt, these are also linked to bad economies. When the standard of living in a country is low, it simply means the habitants are poor and can barely afford necessities. For majority of Africans to be able to afford smartphones, these devices have to be dirt cheap, and this is another reason why sales of low-quality consumer electronics has continued to thrive in Africa.
Lack of education and ignorance
Africa is regularly referred to as the rich continent habiting the poorest (not literally in the context of this article). A lot of people have poor minds. Easily swayed by cheap promotions without knowing the contents of what they are getting. Some certain smartphone manufacturers who ship down cheap smartphones to African countries have continued to use the same cheap components year-in year-out in different casings. The lack of education and a problem of ignorance has ensured this continues and African consumers are unable to ask for better.
Technology is advancing, developed countries have continued to enjoy the benefits, but can we say the same for Africa?