The Korea Herald: Samsung Electronics revs up localization in Africa

Tech giant calls Africa last emerging market, pushes for tech-boosted corporate social activities.

Africa is the last emerging market, tech giant Samsung Electronics said on Monday, putting emphasis on its long-term African sales operation.

The electronics behemoth set a 2015 sales target of $10 billion, about four times its current sales performance in Africa.

Separating its Africa and Middle East operations in 2009, Samsung set up an additional head office in the Republic of South Africa for stronger localization of its products in Africa.

The move was also an attempt to expand its pool of customers, from its long-time major partner countries and cities to neighboring countries and smaller cities in the economically-emerging continent, Samsung said.

The approach to the African market revolves around complete localization, Samsung said, pointing to its Africa operation’s slogan, “built for Africa.”

In July 2011, Samsung launched “Surge Safe TV,” a localized TV product with high tolerance to instant changes in voltage. As an unreliable power supply has been a problem in some African countries, Surge Safe Plus TV gained instant popularity in the local market.

In June, 2012, Samsung rolled out “Surge Safe Plus TV,” an upgraded version of Surge Safe TV with an enhanced, light-emitting diode display and stronger pressure resistance.

To court more customers in Nigeria, where the music market is booming, Samsung also launched TV products with equalizers best suited to play African music. The firm also signed a contract with Don Jazzy, an award-winning singer-songwriter from Nigeria for market promotion.

In this year’s third quarter, Samsung unveiled “Free Satellite TV,” which provides 30 free English TV channels and 30 free French channels. The move came after the tech giant signed a business partnership with global satellite operator, SES S.A, to launch the new LED TV with built-in satellite decoders.

Samsung estimated that the popularity of Free Satellite TV resulted from the fact that African customers prefer satellite channels to cable channels due to weak broadcasting infrastructure in Africa.

Rated 10th in “Best Brand Africa 100,” with an estimated $1.3 billion value, Samsung has been the best-selling TV brand in Africa.

In its third quarter sales, Samsung topped the TV sales in Africa-Middle-East with about 47.3 percent market share, followed by No. 2 LG Electronics’ 24.9 percent.

Samsung’s other products such as washing machines and refrigerators are the No. 1 sellers in Africa as well. During a power outage, Samsung fridge “Duracool” can keep running for three hours.

Samsung has been pursuing continued localization, launching triple-protector air conditioners that withstand power instability, as well as solar-charged netbook computers.

The Korean conglomerate has built a positive reputation with various corporate social activities to contribute to African society.

Samsung has offered technology training programs to South African high school students with excellent performance. After graduation, these students are again offered the chance to learn at “Samsung Engineering Academy,” which provides job opportunities to work in Samsung Electronics service centers.

Samsung currently runs Samsung Engineering Academy in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. Samsung plans to build more branches of the tech academy in other African countries.

In partnership with Korea International Volunteers Organization, Samsung has donated solar-power LED lanterns to brighten rural regions in Africa where power supply is absent or limited.

Samsung also created “Solar Power Internet School,” where African students can use electronic devices powered by solar energy. Once fully charged, these devices can last nine hours without power supply or sunlight, the company said.

Since 2010, Samsung has been running volunteer programs during the summer vacation season every year, recruiting Samsung employees who are willing to contribute to the African society.

Samsung has also supported many soccer events, based on the high popularity of soccer throughout the African continent. It has sponsored Africa Cup of Nations since 2008 to present and plans to sponsor the 2013 and 2015 African U-20 Championship to support future soccer talent.


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