Lockdown driving up demand for mobile devices from Africa
The on-going COVID-19 crisis has sparked a spike in demand for laptops in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa as Europe, the Middle East and other continents face a scarcity of devices occasioned by the global pandemic which has disrupted supply chains across the world.
This is according to Nigerian e-commerce firm Konga which stated that a lockdown enforced in countries across the world has resulted in many people having to work and learn from home.
This has driven up demand for laptops and other work tools to enable staff who would otherwise have relied on work systems in the office, to be able to turn in productive work on personal laptops.
The company claims a number of educational institutions have embraced e-learning as a way to bridge the gap between tutors and students/pupils while complying with the lockdown being enforced in many of these countries.
“Furthermore, parents and other social media-savvy youth have had to purchase laptops in view of the lengthy stay at home as a means of enjoying more convenient screen time for leisure activities such as chatting or seeing movies on Netflix,” reads a statement issued by the company.
Consequently, attention has turned to Africa, especially major markets like Nigeria, for inventory.
Ravi Zack, a supply chain specialist based in Germany, is quoted as saying: ‘‘Businesses have bought up almost all available laptops in Europe for their staff working from home. The benefits of e-learning as a tailor-made solution for the lockdown in most countries has also seen increased demand for these tools. Most professionals and social media users have also considered bigger screens as a better option for the long stay at home as against mobile phones. This has seen a massive demand for laptops from other parts of the world, especially Sub-Saharan Africa.”
Vipin Shaw, a mega electronics business owner based in Dubai, is also quoted and said: ‘‘Konga has been identified as a credible outpost with the capacity to retain huge inventory which could come in handy to bail out a lot of people in Europe. In fact, few international computer OEMs had recommended Konga as one of the structured sources that could be of assistance. TD Africa, another Nigerian-based tech firm, was also mentioned as a reliable HP partner which could be in a position to make some stock available.’’
Zack disclosed that Nigerian businesses with international outlook are being looked up to for help in meeting the supply gap in Europe and further afar.
Vice President, Konga Offline, Kalu Johnson acknowledged the company had received enquiries on the possibility of supplying laptops abroad at double the market price, but affirmed the company was considering the needs of Nigerians.
‘‘Yes, Nigerians are not heavy on e-learning and we will make more money selling these devices over there. However, we are not so keen to push these devices abroad as we also have thousands of Nigerians who are in need of these PCs and laptops. Same goes for schools, businesses and other establishments in Nigeria.”
‘‘The Federal Government is enforcing a lockdown and the Ministry of Education has also urged educational institutions to go online to continue teaching and learning. Millions of Nigerians are also working from home this period. If we offload these devices overseas, who knows when we will be able to achieve such inventory capacity to serve the local needs, especially as no one has an idea when the COVID-19 crisis will end,’’ he said.
Reassurance of operations
Konga recently issued a statement assuring Nigerians of its ability to ensure essential deliveries during the West African country’s shut-down.
Prince Nnamdi, co-CEO of the company, said, ‘‘We are structured for times like this and will not disappoint with critical supplies and that is why our strategic logistics/retail stores will remain open in many states across five economic zones.”
In March 2020 Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Isa Ali Pantami said: “with Coronavirus spreading across the globe and more people living in isolation, the digital and information communication sector is providing alternatives for people to stay in touch and institutions to provide the needed basic life-saving services”.