After much anticipation, Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has announced that it will be launching its smartphones in Africa starting in September.
Africa has been the region that is growing in the mobile industry the fastest over the past five years, with sales of smartphones having grown to 47 percent in the first quarter of this year.
Xiaomi has found a lot of success in China, even overtaking Apple as the top smartphone seller within the continent. It does this by offering well-built and sleek Android smartphones made with quality materials, but reduces the cost of its smartphones by reducing its profit margin. While it might make a little less money from its smartphones, it regains that lost money through selling apps and software through its own online store.
The rise of the company has been extremely quick, having only been created five years ago. It was the third-best-selling smartphone manufacturer in the world last year, only behind the likes of Apple and Samsung.
The company has partnered with Mobile in Africa Limited as the distributor for the 50 sub-Saharan countries in Africa. Mobile in Africa is something of a success story itself, having been started by entrepreneur RJ van Spaadonk, who is the executive director of Core Group, which distributes Apple products in more than a dozen sub-Saharan African countries.
"I think Xiaomi is currently the one of the most exciting mobile Internet brands. It is very well suited to the needs and income levels of the emerging middle classes in Africa," said van Spaadink in an interview with Forbes. "There is a great need for mobile technology in Africa that is of top-notch quality but still affordable. What I found in Xiaomi is a company, and a business model, that can accommodate the needs of African consumers."
Mobile in Africa will take a similar route as Xiaomi in China, creating online stores for 14 countries in an attempt to make money, while selling quality smartphones as cheaply as it can.
Two Xiaomi smartphones will be available when the brand launches in Africa. These include the Red Mi 2, which costs $160, or ZAR1,999, and the Mi 4, which will cost double at $320, or ZAR3,999.