For the past 15 years, many aspects contributed to Africa’s rapid economic growth. Mobile phones were critical in leading to this growth.
Transsion, a Chinese-led group that started in Africa and focuses on emerging markets outside of China. Its brands, such as TECNO, are household names on the continent, where it is today the single biggest smartphone seller.
Transsion’s vice-president, Stephen Ha, puts this down to designing phones specifically for the needs of the African consumers.
In 2008, it made a strategic decision to focus exclusively on Africa, before expanding to other fast-growing emerging markets in the Middle East and South East Asia. Shipments of its smartphones grew by 32% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2020 and the hardware producer dominates both the high and middle sectors of the African phone market.
The new TECNO innovations
Speaking to African Business, Ha said that they have recently developed an imaging system that allows smart shooting and smart shadow experience. The new devices are integrating artificial intelligence to detect scenes and skin tones to enhance image quality.
The company is looking to come up with a longer battery life device. This is a key differentiator in Africa. The new device gives you 72-hour battery life and up to six days in standby mode. This is made possible by the chips in the AI-based smartphones which have very low power consumption. The chips enable faster processing speeds that support many advanced features.
This latest upgrade was successful due to the robust growth of the 4G and 5G network. This made them introduce the latest technologies innovation in AI, IoT internet of things, and big data.
The Africa market
Today, Africa has access to 3G or 4G networks. The network is relatively fast and people are running their businesses online.
“We’re very positive about the future and the digital revolution that’s taking place across Africa. Yes, it can do better but our projections are that Africa can become a global tech hub”, Ha highlighted.
Stephen Ha, Vice-President of Transsion Holdings and General Manager of Tecno Mobile, attributes their success to designing phones specifically for the needs of African consumers.
From its first day of business, TECNO made a strategic decision to focus exclusively on Africa. It is now taking its African experience and know-how to other parts of the world, expanding into other fast growing emerging markets in the Middle East, South East Asia and Latin America, with significant breakthroughs in India, Pakistan, Thailand, Colombia and Ukraine.
Yet despite its aim of becoming an international company, TECNO intends to make sure Africa remains its core business and central to its strategy.
The hardware producer leads both the low and middle range sectors of the African mobile phone market, and over the next year it will explore the middle-high end markets with more competitive products.
The cost to performance ratio is a significant factor for all mobile brands but TECNO’s focus is on the total user experience and its research and development (R&D) is focused on continuously upgrading and innovating users’ experiences.
According to Ha, the R&D teams, alongside their researchers and management focused on developing solutions adapted to the African consumer and to overcome the constraints that they faced.
For example it developed technology that provides 72 hour battery life and up to six days in standby mode.
Solar kiosks and the growing use of low cost residential solar kits are improving the situation but a longer battery life is crucial for many African consumers. Another feature has been the development of enhanced camera phones that are optimised for darker skin tones.
TECNO was the first brand to launch phones with dual SIM cards in Africa over a decade ago, while it also quickly pioneered enhanced camera solutions for Africans and the African market.