By Mohamed Alaa Eldin
Lenovo believes the many investment opportunities on the Egyptian market, particularly in smart phones and technological solutions, is due to a large youth population. This, in turn, means a strong awareness of the value of smart phones and other similar devices. Lenovo also believes in the Egyptian government’s recent orientation towards offering several technology-dependent projects.
According to Lenovo’s Egypt CEO Yasser Shaheen during an interview with Daily News Egypt, the company aims to acquire 20% of the smart phone market locally by the end of 2016. The company is also seeking to top market sales for the computer and tablet sectors in the near future.
Shaheen added that the unstable price of the dollar represents one of the biggest challenges for the company locally. If the government is able to control the dollar and stabilise the price, Shaheen said, the effect would be very positive on the investment climate in general.
What investment opportunities and challenges are you noticing in the Egyptian market?
Lenovo opened its Egypt office in March 2011, only two months following the 25 January Revolution, despite circumstances in the country at that time – a security vacuum and a lack of a clear political vision. This demonstrates the company’s confidence in the Egyptian market. Our market share in Egypt amounts to 18.5%, which is the same as our market share globally. This is another indicator of our confidence in the investment opportunities available in Egypt. Youth represent some of the most important investment opportunities locally, especially because they are completely aware of the importance of smart phones and know how to use them. In this way they represent good opportunities for growing our tablet and smart phone sales, and also the Egyptian government has begun a plan to adopt technology, launching a number of large projects in this field. This is what strengthens our opportunities to achieve further growth in Egypt. The most prominent challenge we face is that of unstable exchange rates, and if the government is able to stabilise the exchange rate of the dollar, this will reflect positively on the investment environment as a whole.
Have the prices of your products locally been affected by the dollar?
Egyptian consumers do not bear price increases for technological devices. If we raise prices, so will competitors, and this will have a negative effect on market sales in general.
What are Lenovo’s plans for the Egyptian market during the coming year?
We have implemented plans on the Egyptian market throughout the past four years, and will continue to do so during the coming year. The focus is on computers and tablets, and at present we are first in computer sales globally for 2014 through the end of the third quarter of the previous year. This happened despite a drop in computer sales globally of 15%. Our sales increased by 2-3% every three months. Currently, our plan is aimed at supporting tablet and smart phone growth in particular, and our latest statistics for the third quarter of 2014 show that we produced more than 59m tablets and smart phones compared to 55m computers. These figures demonstrate the main orientation of the company, and we are currently third globally for tablet and smart phone sales after our acquiring Motorola. We are also focusing on providing integrated technological service solution services following the acquisition of a unit of IBM services, which will help enhance our activity in this field in Egypt.
What are current growth rates for the company locally, and what is targeted for 2015?
We are currently ranked second locally for computer sales and our market share is close to 19%. We achieved accelerated growth rates in accordance with a growth plan, under which we have set targets to top the sales market in Egypt in the field of computers by the end of March 2016. In terms of tables, we are also second behind Samsung, but expect to top sales in the near future. Regarding smart phones, we are planning to acquire a share worth 20% of sales on the local market by March 2016, and are competing through more than 10 different price models.
How did Lenovo manage to achieve a sales boom in recent years?
At the beginning, we had confidence in our relationship with business partners on the Egyptian market, and these are among the most prominent reasons behind our growth. The Egyptian market is very large, and due to our desire to provide developed after-sale services and ensure that customers have no problems, we have 15 customer service centres for computers and hope to expand this number to 20 by the end of 2015.
We are also keen on identifying customers’ needs both in terms of the capabilities required from the device we offer or even the price category for available devices.