RLG Group has big plans. The manufacturer of mobile devices and PCs originating from Ghana opened an international head office in the United Arab Emirates late last year after establishing operations in Nigeria, Kenya and Gambia.
In this edited interview with the IDG News Service, RLG General Manager Alex Lu, who is responsible for global operations and business development, laid out the reasons for the move to the UAE and the company's international strategy. Lu talks about the particular challenges facing a company known as an African brand as it competes against international heavyweights such as Samsung and Lenovo.
IDG News Service: Why do you think RLG's opening and move to an international head office in the United Arab Emirates last year is a good move? Why the choice of the UAE?
Alex Lu: Lately, Dubai has occupied a very distinguished position on the trade map in the world. It's a hub connecting the world and a very important business destination for both talents and brands.
As an African brand which has been well-known in the African market and Africa, Dubai offers a very good place for RLG Communications to step into the global market. Among our several activities in Dubai last year, we participated in Gitex (GITEX Shopper & Consumer Electronics, which attracts ICT retailers and suppliers), which was a very good opportunity to introduce our products and technology to global consumers.
IDGNS: RLG's spread from Ghana to other parts of West and East Africa has been phenomenal. What are the main challenges faced in this expansion drive?
Lu: Apparently, like any region in the world, each country has its very own characteristics, advantages and challenges. For us in RLG Communications, we deal with each market -- even in the same continent -- with a different strategy. Each market is a stand-alone case for us.
All the African countries share common characteristics which we understand very well. But meanwhile, we find out that these countries differ in small details and here is our challenge: to capture these small details. This is because what matters at the end of day and distinguishes a good product, service and strategy are those small details, and as the idiom says, "The devil is in the detail."
IDGNS: To what extent has Africans' belief in foreign brands affected RLG's operations and the level of acceptability of its pan-African brand?Lu: Let me explain two important facts: The African market is one of the fastest-growing markets in the world. Simultaneously, the money the ICT industry spent is the hugest in the world now. According to Gartner, ICT expenditure for 2013 including its several sectors was forecasted at [US]$3.7 trillion.
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