The CEO of Mobile Zone, sole distributors of Tecno phones in Ghana, Maxwell Techie was honored at this year’s Ghana Information Technology and Telecom Awards (GITTA) for his “Outstanding Contribution to the Mobile Phone Industry. Additionally, Tecno was adjudged the Smartphone Brand of the Year and Mobile Zone walked away with the Phone Distributor of the Year award.
For Tecno and Mobile Zone, they have always won the same awards since the inception of the GITTAs in 2013. But for Maxwell Techie, this is the first time he has been honored for his massive contribution to the mobile phone industry in Ghana and Africa, and this award is long overdue.
The man, who is fondly described by his industry colleagues as “the father of mobile phone industry in Ghana”, is the first to win this prestigious award for his many years of driving smartphone penetration growth in Ghana by dint of hard work and consistency.
Maxwell Techie took the risk and blazed the trail with affordable Chinese phones when many Ghanaians were used to Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, Ericsson, LG and Blackberry phones. At the time, people had no interest in Chinese phones because they were seen as cheap, with no swag and of low quality. The Tecno CEO and his colleagues in the mobile phone industry, at the time, used to import and sell refurbished phones from Hong Kong and UK because Ghanaians could not afford brand new phones.
Input into Tecno
But Maxwell Techie stepped out of the crowd and went into a relationship with the Chinese manufacturers of Tecno phone, Transsion Technology to develop a tailor-made brand for the Ghanaian and African market.
“My relationship with Transsion Technology goes beyond being just a distributor of Tecno – I was there from day one when Tecno was born and I made significant input into the making of Tecno – I told them what features Ghanaians and Africans love and they included it in developing the brand.
“People do not understand why Tecno became very attractive to Ghanaians and Africans quickly – but this is the secret – I made an input into its development. I suggested the inclusion of a number of features based on my market research on Ghana,” Maxwell Techie said.
The Tecno revolution
According to him, initially when he started bringing Tecno to Ghana, many of the key retailers and sub-distributors were not interested because it was a complete China-made phone, unlike the refurbished Samsung, Nokia, Ericsson, Motorola and others that they all used to sell. “I therefore started distribution from by car booth. I would spend a lot of money and advertise in the Daily Graphic in particular – people would see the advert and call me and then I will drive and go and deliver,” he said.
Over time, the Mobile Zone boss took his marketing strategy to the next level by signing on as a sponsor of the EPL (English Premier League) on VISAT1 as the prime mobile phone brand to sponsor football on TV. He also sponsored Peace FM’s sports show for many years at the time, and that paid off massively.
People saw and heard of the Tecno in the adverts, and they started rushing to the regular mobile phone shops to look for the phone but they could not find it because the retailers had refused to stock Tecno. But that began to change quickly because the shops now started rushing to Maxwell Techie to get Tecno phones as the demand was growing.
Within a short time, all phone retailers in the country were in big business selling Tecno phones because the demand had become very high and it till date, the love for the brand has been sustained and it is driving mobile phone penetration growth in the country, all by the commitment of one man, Maxwell Techie.
Exclusive Tecno Shops
Today Mobile Zone is the only phone distributor in Ghana that has exclusive Tecno shops across all 16 regions of Ghana. Indeed, they have more than one shop in each region and other phone retail shops are also stocking Tecno phones in large quantities, with many shops even boldly displaying the Tecno signage in front of their shops.
The company has run very successful promotions with big brands like MTN Ghana to drive penetration for both brands. Several Tecno brands were sold with MTN SIM cards and free data packages in them. This helped to boost MTN’s market share even further, as it grew Tecno customers as well.
Some of the mobile phone vendor market share reports do not do justice to Tecno in Ghana because the researchers do not visit exclusive Tecno shops to find out their sales figures. But the reality is that in terms of sales and adoption, Tecno phone is currently number one in Ghana, way ahead of Apple, Samsung and the rest.
One other key factor that has pushed the Tecno brand even further is the signing of Ghanaian Dancehall and Afrobeat artiste, Stonebwoy as its brand ambassador in Ghana.
According to Maxwell Techie, the relationship with Stonebwoy has been a “win-win situation” because it has greatly benefitted both brands as the artiste has been consistent with hit songs, performances here and abroad and has also comported himself well since he was signed on – that has been good for the Tecno brand.”
Meanwhile, Tecno has also mounted the biggest billboard in the country featuring Stonebwoy. The billboard is at Osu Danquah Circle. This is in addition to several other Stonebwoy billboards across the country and many media adverts featuring the artiste.
Affordability and quality
Besides projecting the brand via marketing, Tecno also combines affordability with quality in providing Ghanaians’ access to the same experience offered by its high-end competitors but at a way affordable rate. Tecno brands like the Phantom series, Camon series, Spike series and others are rubbing shoulders with the major global brands in Ghana and Africa.
Recently, Xiaomi released its Mi brands in Africa by opening a showroom in Ghana. Prior to that, another leading Chinese Brand, Huawei came to Ghana and made some impression. Meanwhile, other brands from Transsion like Infinix and Itel are also on the market and Vivo is also here.
Maxwell Techie believes all those brands have the potential to do very well in Ghana, but “it will be hard for any of them to unseat Tecno.”