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Business: China’s Tecno takes market lead in Somalia amid rapid growth

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MOGADISHU (Xinhua) – Three years ago when Chinese phone-maker, Tecno made its entry through local dealers in Somalia, mobile phone users got a chance to sample new brand in a market which had then been dominated by Nokia, Samsung among other brands.

Tecno has today positioned itself as a force to be reckoned with in terms of brand penetration and market dominance in the Horn of Africa nation.

“People were not really sure if they could buy mobile phones from China,” Mohamed Dahir, an official dealer of Techno Mobile brand in Mogadishu told Xinhua on Monday.

“We brought the first mobile sets in 2014 and they soon became popular with the middle-class and particularly students who liked it because of its longer lasting battery,” said Dahir as he helps clients try some of the latest Tecno series he recently stocked.

Tecno Mobile which prides itself as the first dual-SIM handset supplier in Africa dedicated to transforming state-of-the-art technologies for emerging markets, has made significant inroads into Somalia placing itself as one of the market leaders in smart phone technology.

Somalis, just like their counterparts in other African countries, have embraced smart phones as their primary medium of communication as millions of users document moments and share them online to the world.

“I have found this brand (Tecno) to be my most favorite choice for smart phones,” Nuradin Abdulkadir, one of the Tecno users told Xinhua in Mogadishu said. “It has a good internet connection capacity and several exciting features.” Abdulkadir said.
The longer lasting battery makes Tecno a first choice for Mohamed Omar who contends his choice for smart phones is largely influenced by its ability to retain power for a long time.

“I have bought several phones but always was forced to carry a power bank around because the battery goes off easily. But with Tecno, I can go the whole day without worries of being off service.” Omar said.

Omar, a student in one of the universities in Mogadishu noted that the phone has gained traction among students who like the brands because of its features and cost.

“The prices for Tecno phones are friendly for students and at the same time they are able to get the same or even better features found in far more expensive brands,” Omar said.

The dealer Dahir said his customers have now fully embraced the China-made phone despite earlier fears about phones from China.

“It was not easy to convince customers to buy phones from China. They had built a relationship with brands from Europe and the United States; but with time, they got convinced that Tecno could offer them a real alternative and superior taste,” said Dahir.

He added that the dual sim option for an original phone was a plus for Tecno.

“Our customers got the chance to own an original phone which allows them to use twin Sim cards. This strongly made our customers convinced that they were getting a good run for their money and I can say we now control at least 50 percent of the market.” he said.

The entry of Tecno Mobile into Somalia not only revolutionized smart phone technology but also opened avenues for job creation among the population, especially the youth who form the bulk of the population.

“Several young men and women have now worked as sales executives in our dealer shops while others have now started their own shops buying from us in bulk or importing directly from China,” added Dahir.

Briefing Room

Somali government introduces 5% sales tax to boost revenues

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The Somali government has launched an aggressive tax collection campaign. The administration has imposed a five percent sales tax as part of efforts to win billions of dollars in international debt relief. However there are concerns on whether the country’s powerful businessmen pay up.

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Camel milk is a healthy investment

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DAILY NATION — In the light morning breeze, camels stick their heads out of acacia trees. Close by are calves separated from their mothers in an enclosure made of acacia branches.

The Seeds of Gold team is in Karionga village, a few kilometres from Nanyuki town, Laikipia County, to meet Halima Haji.

The 78-year-old woman rears camels for milk.

Her herd contains 62 dromedary camels which produce a maximum of between six to eight litres of milk each daily and four litres during the dry season.

“That one is from Turkana, the other is Pakistan and a majority of them are Somali,” Halima tells us as she takes us around the farm.

In a good month she can earn a Sh1.2 million selling the milk at Sh80 per litre locally. The milk price can go up to sh100 to Sh150 in supermarkets.

As we let the amount sink, Halima is already telling us how spot the different breeds based on height, shape and skin colour.

“The Turkana one is shorter and has a dark brownish colour while the Somali one is white and tall with the males having a broader face. I do not keep much of Pakistan camels because they are nomadic and easily get lost,” said Halima.

Halima started out with only six camels which she bought in Isiolo County at Sh15,000. Currently, one camel sells at between Sh150,000 and Sh200,000.

“I was interested in rearing the camels after learning of the health benefits of their milk,” she said.

Every morning before 8am when she visits the farm she has leased to graze the camels, she drinks three glasses of the raw milk.

Camel milk is said to be high in insulin which makes it suitable for diabetics, people suffering from arthritis and lactose intolerant children, among others.

Her daughters who have accompanied their mother to the grazing fields say camels are her true love.

“You have really made her day by coming here, she is very happy now,” said ZamZam Haji, Halima’s youngest daughter.

LESS FOOD AND WATER

The animals’ productivity largely depends on the seasons such that during the dry season the milk production per animal goes down compared to days rains are heavy and consistent.

Currently, the vegetation that germinated following the rains experienced in the last quarter of last year is diminishing and this is the worst season for the herders.

She hoping the dry spell will be assuaged semi-zero grazing system.

“The camels will definitely go out in the field to graze but I am planning that come back and graze somewhere together,” she said.

Halima is currently stocking up feeds for the animals to counteract the imminent drought as the weatherman predicts rains will begin in April.

The animals are going to be fed with bran and seed cake which will ensure they continue being productive despite the drought.

“We want the government to come up with a directive that will see companies manufacture feeds for camels just like there is for cattle and poultry,” said Halima.

Camels are replacing cows and goats in the pastoralist communities as choice livestock as the country continues to grapple with the vagaries of climate change.

According to Halima, camels can do with less food and water compared to livestock.

In her herd she has one male dromedary camel that helps in reproduction.

She said land shortage is the main hindrance to camel farming.

For instance she has leased a 300-acre piece of land to graze her camels at Sh20,000 per month.

They also rely on neighbours who partitions part of their land to allow the camels to graze at a fee of Sh500 per month.

Halima has previously had a herd of over 200 camels but lost a number to drought that took a toll on both humans and animals countrywide last year and to diseases.

REAR CAMELS FOR MILK

She has employed three men who take care of the animals and milk them.

“I only allow them to milk the camels once per day in the morning, the rest of the day the calves are left to feed,” she said.

John Oguk, an expert in camel farming, said the common diseases that affect camels are foot and mouth, lumpy skin disease and mastitis.

Dr Oguk says a camel’s hump consists of stored fat which the animal metabolises when food and water are scarce.

“When the camels use their stored fat in the hump, it will diminish but will refill once they eat or drink again,” said Dr Oguk.

Halima said she collaborates with the veterinary doctors in the county to ensure her animals are all well vaccinated and free of diseases.

Besides liaising with the county vets, she also ensures her camels are bathed with pesticides that ensure they are free of ticks and other harmful flies.

She sells her milk to WhiteGold milk processing company that pasteurises and packages the milk in Nanyuki.

The company that was opened last year buys milk from pastoralist communities as far as Isiolo, Marsabit and Wajir counties. It is seeking a to reach Mandera County this year.

Camels are not only used for milk. They also leather and meat products.

“We have used the camels for transport for long but I think it is time we used them to turn in a profit,” she said.

Halima is looking to bring women together to rear camel for milk.

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How to Turn $200,000 Into a $670 Million Business

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Seven years ago, Ismail Ahmed set out to build a startup that could send cash electronically from the U.K. to Africa. He had $200,000 and a lot of experience in the money transfer business in his native Somalia.

Today, London-based WorldRemit Ltd. sends money to 148 nations and has just raised $40 million in a deal led by LeapFrog Investments, an investment firm in London, the company said in a statement on Thursday.

The Series C funding round values the fintech firm at more than $670 million, according to a person familiar with the transaction, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. WorldRemit’s longtime backers, Accel Partners and Technology Crossover Ventures, invested in the deal.

WorldRemit, which specializes in sending money via mobile phones, will use the cash to try to grow its customer accounts globally to 10 million from 2 million by 2020. The company is making a big push in transfers between the U.S., Asia, and Latin America.
“The U.S. will grow our revenues as much as 40 percent over the next few years,” Ahmed, WorldRemit’s chief executive officer, said in an interview.

But the company faces stiff competition from The Western Union Co., the longtime powerhouse in the $444 billion global remittance business, as well as other fintech firms such as Remitly Inc., a Seattle-based company that raised $115 million in a private fundraising deal in October.

WorldRemit is on course to record 60 million pounds ($81 million) in net revenue this year, a 46 percent jump from 2016, according to Ahmed. The company is looking at a potential initial public offering in two to three years, he said.

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