By Adedeji Fakorede
Nigeria’s economy is losing about N34 billion monthly to importation of mobile phones due to lack of government policy that could encourage local assemblage.
An average of four million mobile phones are imported into the Nigerian market monthly, according to data from the Federal Ministry of Communications.
With the average cost of a new standard mobile phone in Nigeria estimated at $43 (about N8,514) in a report by Oxford Business Group, National daily gathered that the country is losing a conservatively estimated N34 billion to capital flight. The country is currently rated as the fastestgrowing telecoms market in Africa and one of the fastest-growing in the world with about 10 per cent contribution to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
With over 170 million population, the country has been identified by major phone manufacturers- Samsung, Blackberry, Microsoft-Nokia, Tecno, Huawei, Infinix, Gionee, Lenovo, LG among others from Europe, Middle- East, Asia, China and other developed countries as country with a large consumer base for their mass products. However, while most of the phone manufacturers have opened their regional offices for West African operation in Nigeria, none has opend an assembly plant in the country for the manufacturing/ assemblage of their Completely Knocked Down (CKD) mobile devices.
It was gathered that despite the formulation of a Local Content Policy for the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector two years ago, the ‘unregulated’ importation of mobile devices into the country without any local input remains a worrisome trend. Analysts said that while the formulation of the policy is laudable thorough implementation of the policy remains to be felt by government.
An analyst, Mr. Akin Akinbo, said: “I think that the number of phone importation into Nigeria is huge and it is enough to warrant the establishment of assembly plants in the country by the phone manufacturers.
“Only when this is done that we would be able to create value locally and create jobs for the multitude of our employable but unemployed youths. “We have seen many foreign brand since this country and none that we can lay claim to as being assembled in Nigeria and this is creating a huge capital flight for the country,” President, National Association of Telecoms Subscribers (NATCOMS), Deolu Ogunbanjo, said in a phone interview.
“This is because almost all the phones we use in this country are imported.” He noted that Nigeria needs a deliberate policy to encourage Completely- Knocked Down (CKD) products.
“Not everything should be allowed to be imported into the country in a normal system. The government should give the phone manufacturers a percentage of their import volume that should be assembled in the country as this will lead to value creation in terms of employment and transfer of technology,” he added.
Also speaking, former Scribe, Computers and Allied Products Dealers Association of Nigeria (CAPDAN), Mr. John Oboro, tasked government to grant tax waiver to phone manufacturers willing to set up assembly plant in Nigeria. “This measure is long-overdue so that we would not continue to be a dumping ground for foreign digital products.
Nigeria loses N34bn to phone imports monthly.