Samsung to increase presence in Africa

South Korean electronics maker Samsung will increase its presence in Africa.  The South Korean company will build more assembly plants in Africa, set up a research and development (R&D) centers and aims to develop 10,000 electronics engineers in the continent by 2015.

Samsung Electronics Co aims to post US$10 billion in revenue by 2015 in Sub-Saharan Africa with its consumer electronics and mobile products built for the market, Yonhap News Agency reported the chief of the company’s African unit as saying Wednesday.

Samsung has been stepping up efforts to make inroads into the African market, which has a population of one billion with a growing number of middle-class people, as it searches for new revenue sources to counter sluggish demand in advanced markets. It created an African unit headquartered in South Africa in 2009.

“With products tailored to the African market, marketing activities and contributions to communities, Samsung Electronics will achieve US$10 billion revenue by 2015,” Park Gwang-gi, executive vice president and head of the company’s African unit, said at an event for press and buyers in Nairobi.

Samsung’s annual conference in the Kenyan capital, which runs through Monday, drew more than 1,000 buyers from 43 African countries, the company said.

Samsung introduced its strategies in the continent and showcased new products, including its premium Web-connected TVs, the Galaxy S2 smartphone, the Galaxy 10.1 tablet computer, laptops, digital cameras, washers, air conditioners and other home appliances designed for the local market.

Its air conditioners and flat-screen TVs for Africa are protected against unexpected power cuts and humidity, it said, while the batteries for its laptops can be recharged by solar power.

“Africa has huge growth potential,” Yoon Boo-keun, president of Samsung’s visual display division, told reporters in March ahead of his departure to South Africa.

The Korean company has been engaged in community work and sports sponsorship in Africa to promote its brand, it said. Last year, Samsung signed a four-year agreement to sponsor the African Cup of Nations and hired Didier Drogba, a star player of English football club Chelsea, as the company’s brand ambassador for Africa.

Samsung has provided support for educational programmes in the continent, including the Samsung Engineering Academy and Samsung Internet School, the company said.

The firm’s first African R&D centre will be situated in Nairobi, which it says will be used to develop products suited to the African market that serve to be unkind to electronics products through frequent power outages.

Samsung has extended its African footprint rapidly since 2009, when it operated in 15 countries as opposed to 42 by the end of 2010. There are now 80 distributors in Africa compared to 32 as well as doubling the number of service centres to 36.

The company is making all the rights moves and is clearly invested in for the long term, a wise choice since the middle class in Africa is expanding.

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