SOLO Phone Could Eventually Dominate Nigeria’s Mobile Phone Market by Shifting Focus From Hardware to Experience

SOLO phone launch

A 30-year-old tech entrepreneur is hoping to dominate Nigeria’s mobile phone market by growing a company that places more focus on user experience rather than the actual hardware that many other tech giants compete over.

The Nigerian entrepreneur, Michael Akindele, is the director and co-founder of SOLO Phone, “an experience-driven digital content and smartphone company focused on delivering the best content and services on the mobile platform to African consumers,” Forbes reported.

While most mobile companies are already engaged in a grueling war over who has the best hardware specifications, the SOLO executives made a wise decision — find a different way to approach the market.

While Apple is the biggest tech giant in the mobile phone space that has also been focusing on user experience, the phone is often too expensive for Nigeria’s market.

That left an opportunity for SOLO to fill that void.

“SOLO is an emerging markets play,” Akindele told Forbes. “SOLO is an experience-driven device manufacturer with a vision to provide the best content and services to the African and emerging markets consumer at an affordable price that not only delivers tremendous value for money but also enriches their lives. The foundation of SOLO is built on delivering key value added services in critical enterprise verticals such as education, health care and commerce, to mention a few.”

With this type of business model, many would argue that SOLO’s partnerships are much more valuable to the brand than its hardware specs, although those are still important pieces of the package.

The difference, however, is the shift in focus. So while an emerging mobile phone company may find it hard to go head-to-head with Apple when it comes to screen resolution, camera quality or battery life, it may be more possible that an emerging company can hold its own when it comes to the type of apps and digital content that is already available on the devices.

“Today, SOLO offers affordable smartphones bundled with free music — up to 20 million songs licensed from Sony, Universal and Warner,” Akindele continued. “This innovation was possible because of partners that believe in the SOLO vision. We also recently launched a Video-On-Demand app available to all Android devices in Nigeria offering the latest Nollywood and Hollywood movies from global movie studies such as Disney, Universal Studios and Sony Pictures.”

Akindele said SOLO’s market approach has paid off so far with consumers receiving the “offerings relatively well.”

“In our first year, we established strong distribution network across Nigeria by partnering with key smartphone retailers,” he said. “Furthermore, we’ve also partnered with primary ecommerce platforms to drive adoption and sales of our device and services.”

The company is currently working on dominating Nigeria’s mobile market but has future plans of expanding all throughout the African continent.

With an affordable product and a new perspective on how to attract consumers to its mobile devices, SOLO’s dreams of an African takeover could very well become a reality as the continent’s tech market continues to develop.

Nigeria’s Largest E-Commerce Startups Show Signs of an Imminent Digital Boom in the Country

Recently, tech startups in Nigeria have been piquing the interest of tech giants, investors and venture capitalists all across the globe. As these startups continue their climb to success, it seems like the economic landscape in the African country is starting to show signs of a highly anticipated digital boom.

A number of tech entrepreneurs have pointed to Nigeria as the go-to country for a tech business hoping to lay roots in Africa.

The success of the rapidly growing e-commerce startups Mall for Africa, Jumia and Konga is a clear sign as to why Nigeria is seen as a tech hot spot that’s on the brink of igniting a continental digital firestorm.

Mall for Africa was launched back in 2011 by two Nigerian brothers Chris and Tope Folayan. The e-commerce site focuses on selling American goods to middle- and upper-class consumers in Nigeria. In 2014 alone, Mall for Africa brought in $17 million in sales and teamed up with major retailers like Barneys, Bloomingdale’s and Best Buy.

Jumia and Konga concentrate more on the general consumer market in Nigeria rather than the niche audience Mall of Africa is going after.

Together, both of the online retailers have obtained more than $300 million in VC (venture capital) funding.

This trend was driven partially by the growing amount of spending power in Africa, especially in Nigeria.

A report by the McKinsey Global Institute said that consumer spending in Africa is expected to exceed $1 trillion in the next five years. Nigeria is already seeing an impressive $400 billion in consumer spending.

McKinsey estimates that tapping into that growing market could lead to more than $75 billion being generated in e-commerce revenue alone by 2025.

Konga CEO Sim Shagaya says that the market has always shown an interest in more technology and e-commerce but simply didn’t have the infrastructure to back it.

“The energy is already out there,” Shagaya told Fortune. “Africa does not lack an abundance of people to buy things, sell things or move them around. What Africa lacks is a 21st century operating system to make it all work.”

With more investors, major tech companies and venture capitalists seeking opportunities in the Nigerian market, however, an Internet boom seems imminent.

Konga and Jumia, while competitors in the market, are both leading the way for Nigeria to unlock its full economic potential in cyberspace because they are proving just how profitable Nigeria and the rest of the African continent can be.

They are also showing tech giants that it is possible to overcome the country’s unique obstacles.

A series of events have had some entrepreneurs wary of tapping into Nigeria’s market.

The country’s president recently fired the central bank governor, Lamido Sanusi, because he blew the whistle on $20 billion in missing state oil revenue.

Not too long after that, news of the Boko Haram kidnapping shocked the globe, and the country’s presidential election was delayed for six weeks.

In summary, Shagaya says, the problem is corruption.

“In ways, the country’s challenges create the opportunities,” Shagaya said. “But there are some problems you can’t get away from, like $20 billion missing and hundreds of girls kidnapped. The common denominator in all this is corruption.”

Either way, the entrepreneurs behind these incredibly successful e-commerce startups are focusing on the country’s incredible amount of untapped potential.

“We know it has more potential than where it is now,” Shagaya noted. “Creating jobs and successful 21st century ventures will serve that. We will make money, but in doing so, we will also fix problems.”

Nigeria Has ‘Limitless Opportunities’ for Engineers in Burgeoning Economy

Several key sectors of Nigeria’s economy are suffering due to a lack of engineers who some say could provide the “backbone” for rapid development in the country.

Femi Akintunde, CEO of Alpha Mead Facilities and Management Services Limited (AMFacility), is the latest entrepreneur to publicly discuss the country’s shortage of engineers.

During the presentation of his paper, “The Engineer as the Prime Mover of Economic Development,” to the 2014 inductees of the Nigerian Society of Engineers at the University of Ibadan, Akintunde said the country is in “dire need of engineering solutions.”

“Today, the world and Nigeria is in dire need of engineering solutions,” he said. “This simply means that, if the simple economic rule of demand and supply is anything to go by, then there are limitless opportunities for engineers in the pool of problems that confront our nation.”

Akintunde went on to say that Nigeria’s “current economic indices and realities” can’t be solved without taking a close look at “engineering principles and practices.”

“These challenges therefore place a huge responsibility on the shoulders of engineering stakeholders; and as you join the league of this noble profession today, it is only ideal that we provoke your thinking to imbibe a solution mentality towards our nation’s economic problems,” Akintunde said. “You cannot afford to join the bandwagon of those complaining about Nigeria. The Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan is a document that highlights key areas of the economy, that can take our economy through the maturation circle of Vision 20:2020. You should make such documents a companion.”

The Nigeria Vision 20: 2020 document spells out a plan for Nigeria to become one of the top 20 economies in the world by the year 2020.

Akintunde also had a message for the lecturers at the ceremony.

“Our lecturers must also understand that, as the society advances, its challenges also advance, and the only responses that can contain such advancements are new researches,” he continued. “The new breed of engineers has to be equipped with contemporary knowledge to be able to move the economy forward.”

Earlier this year, The National Power Training Institute of Nigerian relayed a similar message.

Back in April, the director-general of the Institute, Reuben Okeke, revealed that Nigeria needed more than 50,000 engineers to boost the power sector reform.

At the time, that sector had only 200 of the 51,000 required engineers.

Okeke said that since the employment embargo in 1998, the country has struggled to attract young, qualified engineers.