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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Zain’s low cost handsets sold 1m

•In eight months

Leading Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) operator, Zain Nigeria, made big scores with its Ulta Low Cost Handsets (ULCH) by selling over 1 million in eight months.

Public Relations Manager, Zain Nigeria, Mr. Emmanuel Otokhine, made this disclosure in Lagos, saying the introduction of Ultra Low Cost Handsets in the first quarter of last year was a huge success.

He noted that the specially designed handsets for low income earners has given a boost to Zain’s corporate image, improve public perception of the brand and dress the company up in a flattering corporate, social and responsible costume.

“Curiously, the reality on ground eight months down the line is, to say the least, amazing. Not only has Zain scored big by selling over 1 million of these new breed handsets,” he said.

The telecom giant, he also said, has scaled a monumental hurdle by giving voice to many Nigerians who live on the lower rung of the economic ladder.

According to him, from the creeks in the Niger Delta to the hilly villages up North, Nigerians are now talking, courtesy of Zain’s N1,700.00 ZTE handsets.

He explained that the Ultra Low Cost Handset (ULCH) were bundled with Zain SIM cards and N50 airtime on activation of the Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) card, and additional N200 airtime is credited to the phone, bringing the total value of free airtime to N250.00.

Otokhine noted that in the country today, many who live on the lower rung of the ladder nurture a big dream, “the dream to join those with bigger wallet to enjoy the benefits of the unfolding communication revolution sweeping round the country.”

This dream, he said, has remained a pipe dream because of communication entry level high hurdle.

He pointed out that with the price tag of N6,000 or more on the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) phones, the only dream of owning a phone many could conveniently call their own is by purchasing a used phone which are often unpredictable and at times dismally dysfunctional.

“This is even made worse by the painfully complex socio matrix of the Nigerian society which tends to hold with derision those who carry phones that are not considered socially huge status enforcing,” he declared, stressing that the hurdle for these folks, especially rural dwellers encouraged Zain to introduce the $15 GSM phones, another first in the country.

“The introduction of the N1,700 phones is the first in the history of telecom in Nigeria and indeed in Africa. The feat has consigned to history, tons of hypothesis which tend to support the notion that a GSM phone with such price is not economically feasible for now,” he clarified.

Also commenting on the development, Zain’s distributor in the North Central Region, the Chief Executive Officer, Godex International Limited, Mr. Godwin Bazari, said the ultra low cost handset is one of the best things that have happened to many Nigerians in the rural areas.

“To say that there is still a very large market for voice in Nigeria is an understatement. In the cities, you see many people flaunting two or three handsets and at the same time clamouring for data services and Third Generation (3.5G) technology. The reality in many high density villages in the North Central region is really very different,” he said.

Mr. Bazari equally remembered that when his firm went to a village called Ayingba in Kogi State to sell the bundled ultra low cost handsets, the villagers did not just exhaust the cartons but overwhelmed the team with gifts.

“I was surprised to see chiefs, farmers, petty traders and some students give us several gifts including tubers of yam, plantain and so on, because we came to sell Zain SIMs bundled with handsets and airtime,” he said.

Bazari said the experience has humbled him a lot that he has made serious efforts to establish a customer interaction centre in many of these rural areas to ensure that no customer is deprived of quality telephony experience.

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