Mi brand to battle Transsion dominance in Kenya’s phone market

By Vincent Odundo

The world’s 4th most valuable technology startup, Xiaomi  opened shop in Nairobi with customers and tech enthusiasts queueing for hours to buy Xiaomi products.

The startup’s entry into Nairobi is in line with a plan announced by Mi Founder Lei Jun to counter the dominance of Chinese rivals including Transsion holdings, the manufacturer of the popular Infinix, Itel and Tecno brands. The Shenzhen-based company accounted for 35.4 percent of smartphone shipments in the second quarter of 2018.

Mi Africa

Xiaomi had earlier in the year set out to focus on markets in Africa including Kenya, following growth in the Chinese market. Xiaomi surpassed US phone giant Apple as the leading smartphone maker in China during 2018 Q2.

Xiaomi says it’s launching a department in Africa, which will be headed by its current vice president, Lin Bin. Xiaomi has been selling phones in Africa since 2015 through local partnerships; but will have officially ventured into the area.

The company is keen to implement a low-cost strategy by eliminating brokers to increase earnings as it rolls out its expansion strategy in the continent’s market space through Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya with a product range of several dozen smart devices and household products.

The focus is on the huge demand for entry-level and mid-range smartphones, which are pocket-friendly in the Kenyan market where feature phones are still widely used.

Xiaomi East Africa head of sales, Yao Shaofei confirmed plans for more shops in Kenya for the world’s 4th largest smartphone maker valued at more than US$46 billion.

With the more than 70 products carrying the Mi brand, from robots and ballpoint pens to electric scooters and smartphones making a stay entry, China’s largest smartphone makers’ scramble for the Kenyan mobile phone space being one of the fastest growing device markets in the region now takes a whole new shape.