Chinese electronics firm eyes African free trade agreement expand business

2020-08-18 14:34

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KAMPALA, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- Eight months into production in Uganda, ENGO Holding Limited is making breakthroughs across Africa.

David Beecham Okwere, secretary of chief executive director of the electronics firm, told Xinhua in a recent interview that besides the domestic market, the company started exporting to the regional markets via dealerships.

Okwere said the company has positioned itself to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), aimed at accelerating intra-African trade and boosting Africa's trading position in the global market.

The firm exported the first batch of phones to Morocco in May, with the North African country ordering 16,000 pieces every two or three weeks.

According to experts, if all 55 African Union member countries join the AfCFTA, the agreement will become the world's largest free trade zone by the number of countries, covering more than 1.2 billion people, with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of 2.5 trillion U.S. dollars.

"We hope to use that (agreement) as an entry point into the African market. Our vision is to become a giant manufacturing phone company in Africa," Okwere said.

Evelyn Anite, Uganda's minister of state for investment told Xinhua in a recent interview that the firm was not only contributing to the economic growth and development of the country but it was immensely helping in building local capacity through transfer of ICT knowledge and skills.

Chinese privately owned enterprises are following through their country's commitment to help industrialize Africa through the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) framework.

One such enterprise is ENGO, which started with the assembling of feature phones and smart phones and later plans to start manufacturing. It hopes to create about 500 jobs by 2021.

At the Beijing summit of the FOCAC held in 2018, China announced industrialization as one of the eight initiatives that will help Africa fast track its economic transformation.

ENGO has also started manufacturing smartphones that have an installed thermometer. According to the company, the new innovation is critical as temperature screenings are now required before entry into a facility during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Okwere said the development of the device took a period of four months, starting in March, with support from the firm's parent company in China.

He said if the phone passes the approval process, it will be an addition in efforts to fight the pandemic that continues to spread on the continent.

Uganda's ministry of health said such an innovation is a big boost in the fight against the pandemic. Enditem
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