Home Big Story EXCLUSIVE | Zinox in secret smartphone plan to ‘disrupt Nigerian handset market’

EXCLUSIVE | Zinox in secret smartphone plan to ‘disrupt Nigerian handset market’

EXCLUSIVE | Zinox in secret smartphone plan to ‘disrupt Nigerian handset market’
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Zinox Technologies is working on a closely-guarded smartphone brand soon to hit the Nigerian mobile handset market, Leo Stan Ekeh, Chairman of the Nigerian tech conglomerate has hinted in an exclusive interview with Technology Times.

Zinox Technologies makers of the Zinox range of computers and one of the indigenous original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in Nigeria plans smartphone brands in a foray to disrupt the Nigerian mobile handset market.

Nigeria is home to one of the world’s fastest growing mobile phone markets with 154,529,780 active phone lines at the end of year 2016, representing 110.38 teledensity, market information by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) reviewed by Technology Times shows. The growth in the subscriber market also fuels growth of various brands of mobile phone handset brands across Nigeria.

In an interview at his Ikoyi home weekend in Lagos, the Zinox Chairman unfolded the tech company’s plan to Technology Times underscoring that the goal is to position Zinox as a serious contender in the competitive Nigerian mobile device market by “finding its way into the hearts of Nigerians.”

Nigeria is home to one of the world’s fastest growing mobile phone markets with 154,529,780 active phone lines at the end of year 2016, representing 110.38 teledensity, market information by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) reviewed by Technology Times shows. The growth in the subscriber market also fuels growth of various brands of mobile phone handset brands across Nigeria.

Zinox Technologies is working on a closely-guarded smartphone brand soon to hit the Nigerian mobile handset market, Leo Stan Ekeh, Chairman of Zinox Technologies Limited of Nigeria hinted in the interview with Technology Times at his home in Ikoyi, Lagos.
Zinox Technologies is working on a closely-guarded smartphone brand soon to hit the Nigerian mobile handset market, Leo Stan Ekeh, Chairman of Zinox Technologies Limited of Nigeria hinted in the interview with Technology Times at his home in Ikoyi, Lagos.

Ekeh did not reveal the name of the planned Zinox smartphone brand because of what he cites as incidents of corporate leaks and espionage his company has suffered that resulted in revenue loss, reputation damage, production disruptions, among others.

”We are launching our smartphone brand into the Nigeria market in the next few months but I cant reveal the name name because I have been hurt before by some rival technology companies”, he says.

The Zinox Chairman recalls that the company was hurt in the past when it created a consumer technology product being shipped into the Nigerian market. ”In fact, we have shipped four  container loads of that product but one of my competitor called some journalists for a press conference and the name I had on that product was exactly what they called their own. They just put stickers on their own and called it by our name. So we were affected negatively. So based on this experience, I might not want  to tell you the name. Even most of my staff didn’t know about it expect those working on that project.”

”Dealing with the challenge of corporate espionage was a big headache for me”, the Zinox Chairman told Technology Times noting that that’s one of the major reasons some “disciplined” multinationals would not want to invest in Nigeria.

” We have put all those behind us and we don’t have the time to chase small criminals, so we have our hubs in Dubai, China where we do most of our research after which we bring the final product here to launch”

Commenting on the adoption on local content in Nigeria, the Zinox Chairman told Technology Times that the compulsory mandate for all Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in the country to purchase computers by indigenous companies was a major game changer for his tech company.

The policy was first introduced under the regime of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo  was seen as one of the strategies to foster the adoption of ICTs in driving efficiency and productivity in governance and across the economy.

”Dealing with the challenge of corporate espionage was a big headache for me”, the Zinox Chairman told Technology Times noting that that’s one of the major reasons some “disciplined” multinationals would not want to invest in Nigeria.

Leo Stan Ekeh, Chairman of Zinox Technologies Limited of Nigeria
Local content policy brought us benefit says Leo Stan Ekeh, Chairman of Zinox Technologies Limited of Nigeria

According to him “as the foremost IT company to go into an uncharted terrain of computer production in West Africa, Zinox had Nigeria in mind as it debuted with the first ever Nigerian internationally certified branded computers with the Naira keyboard.”

According to Ekeh, ” I was actually to launch Zinox under late General Sani Abacha regime, but I had challenges because he was always suspecting that American government was sponsoring me. But the day I had confrontation with him, I told him that it was an insult on my  personality for them to think that America will want to use me against my country. I wouldn’t blame them because the country was purely analogue at that time.”

He adds that ”when Chief Olusegun Obansanjo came to power I listened to his agenda and it was very clear, he had a clear intention to change Nigeria.

”Frankly when I launched Zinox, I didn’t invite him (Obasanjo). After the launch, when I made contact with him he was very angry with me that I didn’t invite him. Afterwards, he invited me to the State House and also called the media for a press conference on why the nation needs to support Zinox brand.”

Leo Stan Ekeh, Chairman of Zinox Technologies Limited of Nigeria
Nigeria can produce tech billionares…Leo Stan Ekeh, Chairman of Zinox Technologies Limited of Nigeria

The Zinox Chairman recalls thus: ”I think the foundation of Zinox is Obasanjo because his endorsement didn’t only help the brand but also increased the adoption of local content in Nigeria.

”Under his regime it was a big offence for any MDA to purchase any foreign computer  brand. You have to apply directly to him to give you concession to buy any foreign brand. But that policy is no more enforced after his regime. The subsequent administration didn’t go against us or support us.”

Charting the way forward the Ekeh wants Nigerian government to unlock wealth creation opportunities with ICTs because “wealth has become a right for all in the 21st century.”

According to him, “wealth creation would always be about generating material values and accumulating same but the knowledge economy says to us that the processes must change. These tools are to be used to reorganize society and fire innovation.”

He also challenges Nigerian youth, professionals, students and entrepreneurs to go this way because of the growing pace of digital revolution and the knowledge economy.

”Today, if you give these youths the right platforms, which I must say is not expensive, Nigeria will produce billionaires from the ICT sector in the next few years”, Ekeh says.

 

 

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Kolade Akinola Technology Journalist at Technology Times Mobile: + 234 (0) 807 401 6027

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