Roland Agambire is a Ghanaian and Chairs RLG Communications, Ghana. The company, with support from the Government of the State of Osun , will commission a $10 million manufacturing plant in Nigeria by next month. He spoke with journalists in Lagos about the potential and challenges of the Nigerian market. Excerpts Below
CAN you tell us about RLG Communications?
RLG Mobile has been in operation, manufacturing mobile phones in the past 12 years, and has just entered into the Nigerian market. In the last 12 years we have improved our products to a quality that now appeals to the people. The products are much stronger and better now, compared to what it used to be in the past. We have learnt from our mistakes and we remain a better product the markets today. RLG has regional operations in Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, China and United Arabs Emirate. Each region or country has regional autonomy and a legal entity.
The focus of RLG today is to become a leader in innovation with a vision of creating a strong African brand. If you ask me if we have an African brand today, my answer will be in the negative because Africans cannot single our something we can attest to.
Our relationship with various countries is to create jobs and promote technology development. It is important to note that one can create jobs if he or she has the product. In creating jobs, we offer the society, valuable skills and gainfully engage the youths in the society.
You planned commissioning an assembling plant for the manufacturing of ICT products in Nigeria, what is the status of that project now?
We are putting up one of the biggest assembling plant in Nigeria, precisely in Osun State and currently, we have spent close to $10 million and we are aware we will still spend more. But that is not to say that it is a very big investment because we believe we can do more than that.
We have our Nigerian head office in Lagos, but we are building an assembling plant in Osun State, from where we will be able to produce and sell all RLG products in the country.
We have a tagline, which is “Proudly Yours’ this means we have brought the brand to Nigeria and it is owned by Nigerians and will be promoted by Nigerians. RLG is about the people of Africa, giving them the confidence that Africans can start very small in business, but can grow very big in the same business. Africa has always been a source of raw materials for other countries, who come to Nigeria and take away the raw materials and turn them into finished products. The finished products are later sold to us and Africans buy them. That is the situation with Africans. We are supposed to be richer than any other country in the world, but we have allowed ourselves to be poor because of our own mindsets.
We have made ourselves a cash society, whereby we must save for everything we want to buy, unlike developed countries that get what they want first through credit facilities and then pay latter. If we begin to believe in the African brand such as RLG products including mobile phones, laptops, among others and patronise them, then we will go places and compete well with the developed countries. If we do that, we will be creating job opportunities for Nigerians.
On the challenge of electricity in the country, yes, we are aware of it but electricity challenge is everywhere in Africa and we cannot run away from it. In Ghana, we have electricity challenge and we have been coping in the last 12 years of production. We will have a way to overcome it in Nigeria, since we are very much aware that steady electricity is key to manufacturing.
The assembling plant is designed in such a way that it will create nothing less than 1, 000 jobs at a time in the factory alone. Then the after sales service and product marketing will create over 10, 000 jobs. In the market strategy of the RLG products, we have three lines of business, which are the enterprise business, after sales service, and the turnaround production time. The Enterprise Business is a very detailed plan that allows the youths to trade with RLG and establishes meaningful jobs for themselves, by selling RLG products.
The After-Sales Service has to do with aligning some of the people with various shops that will be dealing with RLG products by detecting defects and making repairs and replacement of faulty parts, and this will create over 500, 000 jobs across the country. The Turnaround Production staff are factory workers that will be engaged with factory production, and this alone can create over 1, 000 jobs at a time.
From the production capacity, the plant is designed to produce a minimum of 5, 000 phones in a day. But as we progress, and the workers understand the working principles of the machines perfectly, the number can be doubled as time goes on. The plant is today, the biggest manufacturing plant of RLG and we are citing it in Nigeria, and we are proud of that.
The plant we have in Ghana does not have that capacity as that of Nigeria, and we have made it so because of the huge market in Nigeria, and the warm reception given to us by the government and people of Osun state.
Invariably, the plant is ready. We will start test running in the middle of October this year and by the first week in November this year, we will begin full production.
Nigerian government is very keen about local content. What percentage of local content are incorporated in RLG products?
In terms of local content, everything about our products has 100 percent local content. What most manufacturers do is to outsource some of their production line, but I promised that 100 per cent of the production contents will be sourced from Nigeria.
Also, as part of the local content infusion in all that we would be doing in the assembly plant, we will be seeing a lot of local applications from the phone. We are looking at local contents and our Research and Development Desk is already compiling various forms of available Nigerian software applications that will run on the phones.
We will have apps on local culture, e-commerce, e-education that are tailored to the Nigerian market. We are in the ICT world that create local contents to solve local solutions, and that is exactly what we are doing with the RLG phones.
We are passionate at collaborating with other Original Equipment Manufacturers in Nigeria. We strongly believe that it is better to play as a messenger in a $1 billion-investment company than to play as a boss in a zero-balance investment outfit.
It is of no use playing alone in a market that needs collaboration, so we are willing to collaborate in the interest of the countries where we operate. For example, the phone assembling plant in Osun State is not 100 per cent owned by RLG Communications. It is a partnership business between RLG and the Osun State government and we are happy to partner with the state because we believe in healthy collaboration.
On why we have chosen Osun among other states of the federation as the site for our assembly plant, the reason for this is simple: Osun State became the choice state because of the warm reception given us by the Osun State government and the people of Osun State.