RLG Group has big plans. The manufacturer of mobile devices and PCs originating from Ghana opened an international head office in the United Arab Emirates late last year after establishing operations in?Nigeria, Kenya and Gambia.
In this edited interview with the IDG News Service, RLG General Manager, Alex Lu, who is responsible for global operations and business development, laid out the reasons for the move to the UAE and the company?s international strategy. Lu talks about the particular challenges facing a company known as an African brand as it competes against international heavyweights such as Samsung and Lenovo.
IDG News Service: Why do you think RLG?s opening and move to an international head office in the United Arab Emirates last year is a good move? Why the choice of the UAE?
Alex Lu: Lately, Dubai has occupied a very distinguished position on the trade map in the world. It?s a hub connecting the world and a very important business destination for both talents and brands.
As an African brand which has been well-known in the African market and Africa, Dubai offers a very good place for RLG Communications to step into the global market. Among our several activities in Dubai
last year, we participated in Gitex (GITEX Shopper & Consumer Electronics, which attracts ICT retailers and suppliers), which was a very good opportunity to introduce our products and technology to global consumers.
IDGNS: RLG?s spread from Ghana to other parts of West and East Africa has been phenomenal. What are the main challenges faced in this expansion drive?
Lu: Apparently, like any region in the world, each country has its very own characteristics, advantages and challenges. For us in RLG Communications, we deal with each market ? even in the same continent
? with a different strategy. Each market is a stand-alone case for us.
All the African countries share common characteristics which we understand very well. But meanwhile, we find out that these countries differ in small details and here is our challenge: to capture these small details. This is because what matters at the end of day and distinguishes a good product, service and strategy are those small details, and as the idiom says, ?The devil is in the detail.?
IDGNS: To what extent has Africans? belief in foreign brands affected RLG?s operations and the level of acceptability of its pan-African brand?
Lu: Let me explain two important facts: The African market is one of the fastest-growing markets in the world. Simultaneously, the money the ICT industry spent is the hugest in the world now. According to Gartner, ICT expenditure for 2013 including its several sectors was forecasted at [US]$3.7 trillion.
People of Africa have now started to realize that if they want to build their countries properly, they should reserve the huge amount of the money to go into their national economic cycle; letting this huge amount of money go out of the continent will have a catastrophic result on the economy of the African countries, resulting in negative impacts on the standards of life, employment, education, etc.
At RLG Communications, our mission and vision toward Africa is very clearly symbolized in our slogan: ?Proudly yours?.? Where we wanted to participate in the national economic cycle through our ecosystem,
we are already doing so in the countries where we are operating like Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Gambia; where we have training institutes, we have been preparing youth to work in the ICT field; then we get those qualified youths to work in our plants, taking roles in producing competitive ICT devices, in which we don?t compromise about quality.
IDGNS: When the competitiveness of RLG products is questioned, especially with the influx of global brands such as Samsung, Nokia and Lenovo as they scramble to capture the West African smartphone market, how do you respond?
Lu: Going to the history of RLG Communications, you will find out that it was first established in 2002, which means we were there when most of these current brands haven?t landed there yet.
We are happy to see other brands coming to our region that for us triggers our passion to excel more in innovation, services and strategies to satisfy our people.
IDGNS: Low-cost smartphones are just as important in meeting the high demand for mobile Internet in Africa. Do you agree with this assertion? If yes, how is RLG working to address this seemingly insatiable need among many Africans?
Lu: At RLG, as I have mentioned earlier, we are pioneers in Africa. Close to the people, we know what they are looking for. Our strategy is to produce a wide variety range of products which suit all the levels of the society. We have low-entry, middle-entry and high-entry range of products.
Our feature phones, of low prices, have very advanced features compared to their peers. For example, RLG R6, a feature phone, comes with a rear camera, FM radio, GPRS, TFT screen, video recording, and
Bluetooth at very low price to satisfy people who can?t afford the smartphones with as much features.
By Olusegun Abolaji Ogundeji/.cfoworld.com