The Association of Mobile Communication Device Technicians of Nigeria (AMCODET) has told Technology Times that mobile phone technicians record over N40 billion monthly transaction from the nation’s mobile economy.
Mr Apara Kehinde Ige, National President of AMCODET tells Technology Times in an exclusive interview in Lagos that members of the umbrella body of mobile technicians nationwide are raking growing revenue from fixing mobile phone handsets and allied devices for the nation’s growing mobile phone users.
Though mobile technicians combining software, hardware and mobile accessories dealers continue to grow across the country, the huge potentials of that sector has not received “much attention” by telecoms operators, industry stakeholders and government, the AMCODET President says.
[quote font=”georgia” font_size=”22″ font_style=”italic” align=”left” arrow=”yes”]According to him, “we repair phones on daily basis. In Computer Village Ikeja alone, I can tell you the phone they repair here a day is more than 5,000 units.”[/quote]According to him, there has been no deliberate attempt by mobile phone manufacturers to officially train technicians on how to repair and maintain and offer other support services on millions of mobile devices shipped daily into Nigeria.
Apara, who was backed up by top executives of AMCODET during the interview says that as a 21st century profession in Nigeria, the job of GSM phone repair and maintenance has remained critical and important to Nigeria’s telecommunications and socio-economic development.
”So in terms of turnover , I cannot give you the exact figure but I can tell you that we transact business in excess of N40 billion per month nationwide”, Ige says.
According to him, “we repair phones on daily basis. In Computer Village Ikeja alone, I can tell you the phone they repair here a day is more than 5,000 units.”
AMCODET says that governments at various levels have been agitating for diversification of Nigeria’s economy in different ways and wants a deliberate policy review of ”our obsolete education curriculum into more vocational and technical education which would without doubt translate into higher productivity and more development in terms of GDP and our national per capita income.”
According to Ige, ”we need government support from two agencies. We need Nigeria Communication Commission to appeal to mobile phone companies in supporting our training programmes. We also need Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) for proper inspection of phone accessories brought to the country.”
“NCC has not been giving us proper attention because they are basically busy with the service providers and the Internet providers. They should look at we technicians that we are the backbone of this ICT in Nigeria because without the technicians, the MTN and others will not be selling their recharge cards. Nobody can use a dead phone to work”, the AMCODET President tells Technology Times while expressing concern and challenge faced by the body.
According to Ige, “NCC, the Ministry of Communications should come into an organisation like this. Even though we are still trying to build ourselves up but with their support and encouragement in giving us a slot to attend their programmes like what National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) used to do for us. NITDA gave us a slot and N500,000 to participate in an e-governance programme every year because they want us to learn and thank God it has helped us a lot.”
The AMCODET President says that ”if NCC can let us know their programmes for the year so we can showcase our ability and our talent, how we disassemble and assemble different kinds of mobile phones, I think the sky will be the beginning.”
But Ige, the AMCODET President and his executive team was not hesitant in commending General Olusegun Obasanjo , Nigeria’s former President who they said brought the GSM revolution to the country and has seen the telecoms sector having over 140 million phone lines today which has “become part of the lifestyle of Nigerians.”
According to Ige, ”we will like to appreciate our former President in the person of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo for introducing GSM into Nigeria and ever since then we the Nigerian youth have been fully engaged in this sector for more than 15 years now. Since the inception of GSM in Nigeria, we the Nigerian youth, we find succour in that sector. We are fully engaged directly or indirectly. That is one of the reasons we have AMCODET because without mobile phones, there won’t be mobile phone technicians today. That is why we give kudos to our former President for that beautiful idea.”
[quote font=”georgia” font_size=”22″ font_style=”italic” align=”left” arrow=”yes”]”The phones we repair most are Samsung which has an Android operating system. Their screen is the most expensive screen; we have Samsung screen of N95,000, some N100,000 and this is the challenge with Samsung phone. One thing we have noticed is that theses so-called accessory dealers, at times, they do bring original materials at lower rates compared to the ones they are selling at customer care like all these Samsung Care, Nokia Care and others.”[/quote]An AMOCODET exec tells Technology Times that based on their market insights of phone trends, Samsung brands are the most expensive and frequently brought phones for repair in Nigeria.
”The phones we repair most are Samsung which has an Android operating system. Their screen is the most expensive screen; we have Samsung screen of N95,000, some N100,000 and this is the challenge with Samsung phone. One thing we have noticed is that theses so-called accessory dealers, at times, they do bring original materials at lower rates compared to the ones they are selling at customer care like all these Samsung Care, Nokia Care and others.”
According to him, ”another thing we observed about phones makers is that when they launch new products, the first set of accessories will always be original. It is only maybe after three or four months that they now start the competition of ‘I want my own accessories to be cheapest.’ So from there, they will start bringing accessories that are inferior. If we can have SON controlling the standards of goods imported, these so-called dealers will be careful in bringing in inferior products to the country.”
Speaking on the plans of AMCODET to rebrand the profession, the AMCODET president told Technology Times that ”as an association, we are trying to rebrand and package ourselves and our profession in a way that it will be look attractive to outsiders. Why do I say this? No parent will ever pray that my children or my child will become a phone technician because of the way they view the profession. We have graduates among us and we have people that are well-to-do. I believe that mobile phone repairs is where Nigerians can now start clamouring for entrepreneurship startup funds because nobody cared about entrepreneurship before. But the people now have seen that phone technicians are making it gradually from this industry.”
Ige also says that at AMCODET, ”we are trying in making effort to compete with all these big companies when it comes to fixing phones and that is why we are mobilising our members and training them on business ethics of this sector, making them know that the way we present ourselves is the way the customers will receive us.”
Ige also says that AMCODET is taking steps to get rid of unregistered members that offer substandard services and dupe customers of their hard-earned money, most especially in Computer Village Ikeja, the nation’s biggest technology market cluster.
”Plans are under ways to chase unregistered members out of the market and many people are not aware of this because it is a confidential matter. If you are not properly registered with either Computer and Allied Product Dealers Association of Nigeria (CAPDAN) or AMCODET, you won’t be able to do business here. So, that will eliminate influx of unprofessional technicians in the market. This, I think, is going to be for the interest of all Nigerians.”
The AMCODET President also tells Technology Times that ”in terms of financial strength, we believe that we will get there in the future. How do I mean? When we have our befitting workshops, schools, training department and secretariat such that year in year out, our members are being trained and certified by government agencies and major foreign brands and we have their certificate hung in our offices. I think when customer comes to my office and see NCC certificate with NITDA and other organisations, then the customer will start having confidence in us that these technicians are really well-trained and exposed.”