Mrs Gozi Ijogun is the Managing Director of Technology Distribution (TD) Mobile, a subsidiary of Technology Distribution Ltd, based in Lagos. She spoke with Tony Nwakaegho in this exclusive interview, during the International ICT Girls’ Day in Lagos. Excerpts:
What is Technology Distribution (TD) Mobile all about?
TD Mobile was actually founded four years ago. We were founded because, we saw the trend of moving from the traditional laptop, desktop to mobile devices; and we did not want to be left behind.
We were founded in 2013, and we have grown to be one of the biggest distributors in West Africa for smart devices. Some of the brands we carry are Infinix, Nokia, Samsung, Lenovo, Huawei and so on. We are responsible for about 70 per cent of the devices you can find in the channel today.
The Federal Government is envisioning local content in ICT industry, but you mentioned Infinix, Nokia and others, which are foreign devices. What is your take on this initiative?
We deal directly with OEMs, which is original equipment manufacturers; and we bring in these devices to the country. We have a channel, so we deal with the likes of the people in Computer Village,Lagos, Online stops, Direct Renewal, Slot, Konga and so on. We are the one who sell to these people, not just in Lagos, but across Nigeria, Ghana and Africa.
You mentioned the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Do we have them in Nigeria here?
They have presence in Nigeria, but they don’t bring in devices directly. They have to go through a distributor. Let me give you the channel structure. Before technology distribution came about 18 years ago, people travel to China and put these products in their suit cases,then they come to Nigeria and sell at ridiculously high prices.
But TD was founded to put some structure in the IT channel. So, what happens now is that it goes from the manufacturer to a distributor and the distributor sells to a retailer, while the retailer sells to the end users to create some sanity in the channel. There is some price sanity in the market as a result of this structure.
The emerging trend is that the government talks of dealing in local content in ICT products and not having anything to do with foreign soft wares, so, what is the position of TD Mobile in this situation?
There are some devices that actually come with local apps, as what they want is local content in the likes of Konga, Jumia and Yudala. For some devices they tell us before we bring it to install their apps just to add some local content.
There are also some musical apps, which they tell us and actually the OEMs have to give their consent to install these local apps that have some local contents in them. So, we are in discussion with various people on an e-book to put some local text books that you see in secondary schools in certain devices.
Looking at the ICT market especially the Computer Village, it is saturated with fake phones going by brand, label and names of original phones to deceive unsuspecting customers. How are TD Mobile and other distributors working to eradicate this trend?
That is the challenge that we face since Technology Distribution was born; what we do is to educate the re-seller, that if you buy from the right channel, from TD, you are getting genuine product. If there is any problem with the device, we have after sale support, which is warranty for one year.
And you can walk into any of the OEM’s Centre and get your phone fixed. If you buy a fake phone you can’t do that. We also give them some incentives which we call loyalty programmes.
So if you buy from us or from the OEMs, the OEMs certify the products and you get incentives. That is also a motivation for these resellers to buy the actual genuine products from Technology Distribution.
We are aware that Smart phones that come inside the country get type approval from Nigerian Communications Commission in order to checkmate the influx of fake phones. Are you not working in tandem with the commission in this direction?
The phones that TD brings into the country are 100 per cent type approved. We would not sell anything that has not been certified and type approved by NCC. So we work with OEMs to ensure that these things are in place before we bring them to the country.
Are you people encouraging the local manufacturers in Nigeria that want to venture into manufacturing phones to boost local content?
Yes. We actually want to schedule a meeting with AfriOne because, we are excited with what they are doing and it will be good for a local company to actually manufacture these devices in Nigeria. We hope to schedule a meeting with them to see where that will lead us. It is a good step in the right direction.
What is your assessment of the ICT industry under this present dispensation?
It is kind of obvious that the present government is not paying particular attention to the ICT industry. Hopefully that will change because I know there have been some articles from some prominent men in the ICT industry about the current government giving them in the industry some more focus.
We hope that they will listen because everything now is technology. We need technology to survive for a country that is developing technology is very key to us as a nation. We hope that the government will actually listen to us and pay particular attention to the ICT industry.
We are here today to witness the 2017 International Girls in ICT Day organized by e Business Life, what is your Organization doing in order to encourage the female folk and bridge the digital gender divide in the industry?
First of all, in our organization, like I manage an entity and most of the entity heads under the Technology Distribution, are mostly females. So by doing that alone we are encouraging our younger colleagues to go out, talk to younger girls and try and get them into the ICT industry because it is an industry that is being dominated by the men currently.
For example, once we heard about this event we were very excited to be a part of this event because, that is something that is now in our blood. My Chief Executive Officer is female, Mrs Chioma Ekeh, so she passes this down the line and that is why I am here today to represent my company to show and to show girls that the ICT industry is not only just for men, but it is for everyone.
How will you encourage these secondary school girls that are here today?
I am very proud of them. I hope to talk to them and encourage them further to pursue a career in the ICT Industry. I will share my contact details with them in case they want to take me as their mentor; they are free to call me anytime they want to do internships in Technology Distribution they can come in and I will be prepared to motivate them.
In Nigeria in particular, our parents bring us up, saying you are a girl, you should study economics, business and all these studies. Every girl should be open to what they want to study.
My father wanted me to study economics, but I studied Chemistry, and came out with very good result. And I am where I am today because of what I studied. They should listen to their parents, but if they have passion for ICT they should let them know and I am sure they will be encouraged at the end of the day.
Do you think we can bridge this gender gap in the ICT industry?
Definitely it is already being great and I am sure that in the next couple of years with this initiative in place we will have a lot more girls in the ICT industry.