China eyes Kenya telecoms

February 1, 2011 • Mobile and Telecoms, Top Stories

China based firms such as Huawei and ZTE have been gaining steam in Africa's infrastructure and mobile handset markets

China is looking to Africa again for business. This time it is the telecommunications industry in Kenya that has the Asian giant on the prowl.

It hopes to increase its market share in mobile handsets and the infrastructure market, which has left European companies on the out.
“We are witnessing China’s great push into the telecom industry across Africa and Kenya is just the latest to see China’s influence grow,” said IT consultant Mary Evans in London.

Until five years ago, the Kenyan telecommunications sector heavily leaned towards European based firms such as Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia.

However, China based firms such as Huawei and ZTE Technologies have been gaining steam in the infrastructure arena and are now establishing a foothold in the retail segment with low cost mobile phones and Internet modems.
As a result, they are gaining market share in the retail segment that has remained the domain of European based brands such as Nokia, Motorola and Samsung, firms that are finding it difficult to match the Chinese brands on price.

“The perception that Chinese made products were of poor quality is fast fading,” said Vincent Mutavi, a telecom analyst.
“Besides being low cost, firms like Huawei are matching if not surpassing European firms on quality, giving them an edge in price sensitive markets such as Kenya,” added Mutavi.

By Jonathan Terry

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