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Locals take on China's invasion of Africa's biggest economy: 'They're like Goliath, we're David'

非洲人对中国进入当地最大经济体的看法:“虽然中国强大,但最终会是非洲获胜”【雅虎】


 
A building painted in AfriOne’s brand colors in the Computer Village market, Lagos, Nigeria. The market, which occupies a ramshackle-looking gated neighborhood near Lagos’s international airport, is the center of the country’s consumer electronics trade. (Photo: Armin Rosen for Yahoo News)

在尼日加亚拉各斯州上的电脑村市场,一栋招牌写着AfriOne的建筑。这个市场位于拉各斯的国际机场附近的一个看起来很封闭的街区,此市场是该国消费电子产品贸易的中心。

LAGOS, Nigeria — At Lagos’s Computer Village, buyers, sellers, wholesalers, hawkers and opportunists jostle for a piece of a booming industry. On a recent Wednesday tall stacks of shrink-wrapped printers and copying machines sat along muddy gravel streets. Peddlers hawked batteries, keychain USB drives and every conceivable model of mobile phone out of cardboard boxes.

在拉各斯州的电脑村里,买家、卖家、批发商、小贩和其他机会主义者正在一个蓬勃发展的产业上竞争着。在这个星期三,一堆由塑料包装的打印机和复印机被放在泥泞的沙石路上,小贩们叫卖着从纸箱拿出来的电池、钥匙链、USB驱动器和任何想象的到的手机型号。

Bigger deals went down in the jumble of buildings overlooking the chaos. In air-conditioned showrooms, bright rows of competing company-branded displays, attended by beaming salespeople in company-branded polo shirts, tried to entice bulk purchasers of the most important gadget in the country: smartphones.

然而在这些杂乱无章的建筑中还存在着更大的生意。一排排鲜艳夺目、竞争激烈的公司品牌产品正展示着,这些都是由穿着绘有公司品牌的衬衫的销售人员所展示的,他们试图吸引大批购买者购买该国最重要的设备:智能手机。

Computer Village stands at the head of the cellphone supply chain for a country that has more than 180 million people and the largest economy in Africa, with a 2016 GDP of $405 billion.

在一个2016年的国内生产总值达到了405亿美元,并拥有超过1.8亿人口而且还是非洲最大经济体的国家里,电脑村在手机供应链上位居榜首。

“Brand acceptance can be created from this market,” said Rajesh Ramakrishnan, the representative of the Lagos-based AfriOne, which makes mobile devices among other products. Implausibly, he described the chaotic scene as being subdued by Computer Village standards.  As we fought through the crowded streets, salespeople in AfriOne polos would dizzyingly emerge from the throng to talk to him, and then vanish just as quickly. He calmly defused a confrontation with a group from one of the merchant associations who tried to stop me from using my camera. “It’s a very comfortable place,” he said, also implausibly. “But be careful.”

“品牌接受度可以从这个市场中创造出来,”Rajesh Ramakrishnan说道,他是总部位于拉各斯的AfriOne公司的代表,该公司主要负责生产移动设备等产品。令人难以置信的是,他形容这种混乱的景象是电脑村的常态。当我们在拥挤的街道上挤过去时,那些穿着AfriOne品牌的销售人员会频繁地从人群中出现,与之交谈,然后很快就消失了。而后他平静地化解了与一群试图阻止我使用我的相机的商人团体的对抗。“这是一个十分让人舒适的地方,”他说道,“但要小心。”

AfriOne is the first company to assemble smartphones in Nigeria. It’s new to Computer Village, and only began selling its two models of Android-based devices, priced at around $75, earlier in the summer. Companies that want to be visible in the market’s maelstrom of activity often buy building façades and paint them in their corporate colors, and Ramakrishnan pointed out the boxy concrete cantilevers of a building coated in AfriOne forest green and capped with the company’s logo.

AfriOne 是尼日利亚第一家组装智能手机的公司。这对电脑村来说还很新颖,而且在今年夏天早些时候才开始销售其两款基于android系统的设备,定价在75美元左右。那些想在市场的大漩涡中被看到的公司通常会购买屋子的外墙,并把它们涂成公司的颜色,Ramakrishnan指向了一栋绘着AfriOne标志性的森林绿的方形混泥土建筑,上面还有公司的标志。

 

An AfriOne billboard sits above a gate to Computer Village in Lagos, competing with a Tecno-branded building façade across the street. (Photo: Armin Rosen for Yahoo News)

在拉各斯去往计算机村的大门上,有一个AfriOne的广告牌,与街对面的一个栋有tecno品牌的建筑相互竞争。

But half the neighborhood was covered with the distinctive powder blue of Hong Kong and Shanghai-based Tecno. That was also the color of the market’s solar-powered street lamps, which the phone producer had donated. Tecno’s story is a model for how Chinese companies have leveraged inexpensive manufacturing and clever marketing to dominate lucrative markets around the world, in Africa especially. The success or failure of upstart local challengers like AfriOne will help determine how long that dominance can continue.

但有一半的街区都有这种独特的标志着Tecno公司的浅蓝色,Tecno公司的总部位于香港和上海。这也是市场里太阳能路灯的颜色,因为这是这家手机生产商所捐赠的。Tecno公司的来历是中国企业如何利用廉价的制造业和聪明的营销手段来主导世界各地的利润丰厚的市场的一种模式,尤其是在非洲。像AfriOne这样的新兴地方挑战者兼暴发户的成功或失败将有助于确定这种优势状态能持续多久。

Tecno’s parent company owns 3C Hub, one of the market’s busiest outlets. AfriOne doesn’t have a display there: In order to set up at 3C Hub, “we would have to disclose our marketing plan, and it’s easy for a brand like Tecno to kill us,” Ramakrishnan explained. He’s sure it’ll just be a matter of time before AfriOne is big enough to be invited to the outlet with no questions asked. “Let the demand come. Then they will bring us here. In the next six months, it will happen,” Ramakrishnan promised.

Tecno的母公司拥有3C Hub,这是该市场最繁忙的经销店之一,但AfriOne没能在那里展览:为了我们能在3C Hub展览,“我们必须披露我们的营销计划,而像Tecno这样的品牌很容易杀死我们,”Ramakrishnan解释道。他确信,AfriOne的规模足够大,有资格被邀请到这个经销店,没有任何问题,除了时间问题。“满足人们需求。然后他们会把我们带到那里去的。在接下来的六个月里,这种事将会发生,”Ramakrishnan承诺。

AfriOne’s made-in-Nigeria smartphone will either turn out to be a novelty or a farsighted gambit. Today, an estimated 30 percent of Nigerians have internet-capable phones. The market is large, but just a fraction of what it could be. “There will be such a massive population explosion, and the curve to reach eventual mass market is so far out there,” says Lekan Akinjide, AfriOne’s director of strategy and government coordination, who noted that Nigeria’s population of around 186 million is projected to grow to as much as 400 million by midcentury.

AfriOne的尼日利亚制造的智能手机将会是一种新奇而有远见的策略。如今,估计有30%的尼日利亚人拥有可上网的手机。市场规模很大,但可能这只是它的一小部分。“会有如此巨大的人口爆炸,并呈曲线上升最终到达到目前为止最大的市场份额,”Lekan Akinjide说道,他是AfriOne的策略和管理协调主任,他指出尼日利亚的1.86亿左右的人口预计将会在本世纪中叶增长高达4亿。

Nigerians already have abundant smartphone choices, often from Chinese brands whose names are unknown in the West: companies like Innjoo, Xiaomi, and Gionee. Nigerians can buy a basic Tecno L7 for 13,000 naira ($36) or a Tecno Phantom 6, with high-resolution cameras and fingerprint-enabled security features, for 127,000 naira ($350). Smartphones are sold at nationwide chain stores, but also at market shacks and rural gas stations. On Jumia, Nigeria’s leading e-commerce site, the average price for a smartphone dropped from $216 in 2014 to $117 this past year.

尼日利亚人已经有了丰富的智能手机选择,但通常都是来自中国的品牌,而这些品牌在西方国家是不怎么出名的:像Innjoo、小米和金立这样的公司。尼日利亚人可以购买1万3千奈拉(36美元)的原装Tecno L7,或者花127000奈拉(350美元)买一台拥有高分辨率相机和指纹安全功能的Tecno幻影6。智能手机在全国的连锁店上销售 ,但也有在市场棚户区和乡村加油站上出售。在尼日利亚领先的电子商务网站Jumia上,智能手机的平均价格从2014年的216美元跌至到去年的117美元。

In a country where land-line phones and high-speed connections are rare, smartphones are Nigerians’ window onto the world around them. “We feel like we have some catching up to do in terms of technology, and the only way we can relate to technology is through our phones,” says Eric Okafor, a Lagos-based marketing consultant and consumer electronics reviewer. Information is being democratized, largely because of Chinese phone producers with plentiful capital and vast economies of scale on their side.

在这个国家里,座机和其他高速连接手段都是很稀少的,智能手机是尼日利亚人对周围世界的窗口。“我们觉得我们在技术方面有一些进展,而我们能与科技联系的唯一方式就是通过我们的手机,”Eric Okafor说道,他是拉各斯州的营销顾问和消费电子产品评论家。信息正在民主化,很大程度上是因为中国手机制造商拥有大量的资金和庞大的经济规模。

Still, poor infrastructure and rampant corruption conspire to make Nigerian products uncompetitive even within the country’s borders. AfriOne is trying to jump-start a high-tech consumer electronics manufacturing industry where none has previously existed.

尽管如此,糟糕的基础设施和猖獗的腐败使得尼日利亚的产品即使在国内也毫无竞争力。AfriOne正试图发动一个高科技消费电子产品制造业,而这个行业在尼日利亚曾未存在过。



The AfriOne booth at a telecommunications industry conference in Lagos. During the event’s opening session, AfriOne presenters argued for the importance of the company’s Lagos assembly line. “It’s made for us, made in Nigeria, made for Africans, made for the world,” one of them exclaimed, as puffs of smoke revealed a three-foot mock-up of the company’s Champion smartphone. “It’s the first of its kind in Africa. Imagine that! No more importation.” (Photo: Armin Rosen for Yahoo News)

在拉各斯州举行的电信行业会议上,AfriOne的展台。在开幕式上,AfriOne的一名主持人宣传了公司在拉各斯州的装配生产线的重要性。“它不仅仅是为我们制造的,它虽然在尼日利亚制造,却是为非洲人制造,为了全世界制造,”其中一个人喊道,然后在一股烟雾之中显示了该公司三英寸的智能手机模型。“这是非洲的第一个同类产品。”想象一下不需要再进口的情景!

The company is a small but revealing test case in whether Nigeria can transcend the dysfunction and import dependency that’s jeopardized the country’s progress. But in order to do that, they’ll have to take at least some market share away from Chinese producers, and that won’t be easy. “They’re giants, and we are little,” said Roheen Berry, vice president of Contec Global, AfriOne’s Dubai, London, and Lagos-based parent company, when asked about Tecno. “They’re like Goliath, we’re David.”

该公司的方案虽小但这是很有启发性的测试案例,以此来证明尼日利亚能否跨越危及该国的发展的机能障碍和进口依赖。但为了做到这一点,他们必须从中国生产商的手中挤出至少一些市场份额,这并不容易。“他们是巨人,而我们很小,” Roheen Berry说道,他是康泰克国际集团的副总裁,也是AfriOne在迪拜、伦敦和在拉各斯州的母公司的副总裁,当他被问及Tecno的时候,他说“他们就像歌利亚巨人,而我们是大卫。”(译注:《圣经》中记载,歌利亚是非利士将军,带兵进攻以色列军队,他拥有无穷的力量,所有人看到他都要退避三舍,不敢应战。最后,牧童大卫用投石弹弓打中歌利亚的脑袋,并割下他的首级。)

Tecno, founded in China in 2006, was an unlikely winner of the Nigerian phone wars. In Nigeria, Tecno first started selling inexpensive feature phones in the late 2000s, hoping to reach consumers at the lower end of the market. That only earned its products a reputation for cheapness. Tecno rethought its strategy and started gaining traction in Nigeria around 2013, when it introduced Android-based devices priced at a fraction of Samsung’s offerings.

Tecno(德卡诺)于2006年在中国成立,它不太可能会成为尼日利亚手机战争中的赢家。Tecno在21世纪初的尼日利亚开始销售廉价功能手机,希望能在低端市场上获得消费者的青睐。但这只会让它的产品获得廉价的名声。Tecno公司重新考虑了自己的策略,并在2013年左右开始在尼日利亚市场获得动力。当时,该公司推出了基于android系统的设备,价格仅为三星产品的一小部分。

Luckily for Tecno, the Nigerian economy collapsed in 2015. Nigeria is a major oil exporter and the global plunge in prices sent the economy into a tailspin, worsened through a series of protectionist economic reforms decreed by Muhammadu Buhari, the 74-year-old former military dictator elected president that year. Between June and August of 2016, the naira rapidly lost value, with the official exchange rate plunging from 200 to nearly 350 to the dollar and the actual street value of a dollar ballooning closer to 460 naira. An iPhone suddenly cost about half as much as a car. For the price of repairing a Samsung someone could buy two new Tecno phones of comparable quality. Unlike their American, European, or Korean competitors, Chinese companies were offering Nigerian consumers products they could actually afford, even when the economy entered a disheartening five quarters of recession.

幸运的是,2015年尼日利亚经济崩溃。尼日利亚作为一个主要的石油出口国,全球油价暴跌使其经济陷入了混乱,Muhammadu Buhari总统颁布了一系列的保护主义的经济改革措施,而这位74岁的前军事独裁者在那年当选了总统,但这些措施使情况更加恶化。在2016年6月至8月之间,奈拉迅速贬值,官方汇率从200美元暴跌至近350美元,而实际美元汇率则飙升至460奈拉。在当时一台iPhone的价格大约是一辆汽车的一半。修一台三星的价格,都可以买两款与之质量相当的Tecno的新手机了。与美国、欧洲或韩国的竞争对手不同,中国企业向尼日利亚的消费者提供了他们能够负担得起的产品,即便是当经济陷入了令人沮丧的连续五季度衰退。

Tecno grasped Nigeria at a level that other phone producers couldn’t match. Its devices had dual SIM slots and claimed to have 72 hours of battery life — major selling points in a place where people often use multiple carriers, and where electricity can be fleeting. Their phones had sleek metal frames, in line with Nigerian tastes. The owner of Slot, a popular nationwide electronics retail chain, received a lucrative franchise for Tecno products and is now the CEO of Tecno’s Nigerian subsidiary. Tecno launched apps for the company’s target market, including a successful Africa-focused music streaming service called Boomplay, which comes pre-installed on its devices.

Tecno抓住了尼日利亚人能够接受的水平,致使其他手机制造商都无法与之匹敌。该公司的产品有双卡双待,并声称拥有72小时的电池使用时间——在一个人们经常使用多家运营商并且电力有时有有时无的地方,这种卖点是很受欢迎的。而且他们的手机有光滑的金属框架,很符合尼日利亚人的口味。Slot作为一家受欢迎的全国性电子零售连锁企业,该公司的所有者获得了Tecno产品利润丰厚的特许经营权,而现在则成为了Tecno在尼日利亚子公司的首席执行官。Tecno为该公司的目标市场推出了多种应用程序,其中就包括一项成功的名为“Boomplay”的非洲音乐媒体服务,并在其产品上预装了该应用。



A graphic from a Twitter promotion for the Tecno Own the Stage contest. (Photo: @Tecnoowndstage via Twitter)

一张来自推特的图,Tecno属于你的舞台比赛。

Most importantly, Tecno learned how to appeal to Nigerian consumers. “Marketing is the biggest thing at Tecno,” says Eric Okafor, who worked as a digital marketing executive in the company’s Lagos office from 2015 to 2016. “Everybody wanted to know what was going on with marketing. Nobody wanted to know what was going on with anything else.” As Okafor recalled, the company recruited Nigerian celebrities who could endorse their products in local languages. They mounted an aggressive series of road shows at universities, and even sponsored a popular TV karaoke contest, called Tecno Own the Stage. Tecno became a corporate partner of England’s widely followed Manchester City football club. They painted entire buildings all around the country. “There was a viral effect. And the whole market was blue!,” Okafor said. “You think, no way these people aren’t doing something right if the whole market is blue.”

最重要的是,Tecno学会了如何吸引尼日利亚的消费者。“营销是Tecno最大的事情,”Eric Okafor说道,他在2015至2016年间在拉各斯州的Tecno公司办公室担任数字营销主管。“每个人都想知道市场营销是怎么运行的。但却没人想知道其他东西是怎么运行的。在Okafor的回忆里,公司曾聘请过尼日利亚的名人,他们可以用当地语言来推销Tecno的产品。Tecno还在大学里举办了一系列的路演,甚至还赞助了一场很受欢迎的名为“Tecno属于你的舞台比赛”的电视卡拉ok比赛。Tecno成为了在英格兰广泛关注的曼城足球俱乐部的合作伙伴。而且他们还在全国各地把整栋建筑绘成代表自家公司的颜色。“这是一种病毒效应。整个市场都是蓝色的!”,Okafor说道。“你想想看,如果整个市场都是蓝色的,其他人就做不了什么事了。”

At an early point in the company’s history, Tecno renamed itself Transsion Holdings, with Tecno as one of its subsidiaries. Transsion is now the umbrella company for two other phone producers whose devices are ubiquitous in Nigeria: Infinix, which is slightly upmarket of Tecno, and Itel, which is just downmarket. All three brands benefit from the illusion of competition—last year, Infinix was the most popular smartphone producer on Jumia, with Tecno placing a healthy third.

在公司的早期历史上,Tecno改名为传音控股,并将Tecno作为其子公司之一。而传音现在是其他两家手机制造商的保护伞公司,他们的产品设备现在在尼日利亚无处不在,比如Infinix,它负责Tecno的中高端市场,还有Itel,仅负责低端市场。这三个品牌都能从竞争中获益,Infinix是在Jumia电商平台最受欢迎的智能手机生产商,而Tecno则排第三。

There’s a downside to Tecno’s success. Okafor recalled that Tecno employed many Nigerians in its Lagos office. But he said that none of the Nigeria-based managers from China were directly under the CEO of the company’s Nigerian subsidiary, who is himself Nigerian. “No Chinese person has a Nigerian boss, so to speak,” Okafor said. Certain marketing decisions were made in Nigeria, but everything else was handled in China, thousands of miles away.

而Tecno的成功有一个缺点。Okafor回忆道,Tecno在拉各斯州的办公室里雇佣了很多尼日利亚人。但他说在尼日利亚分公司的管理人员中,没有一个是尼日利亚本地人,而且他们全都是直接在尼日利亚子公司的首席执行官的领导下。Okafor说:“没有一个中国人有一个尼日利亚人的老板。”某些市场决策是在尼日利亚当地做出的,但其他事都是在位于远在千里之外的中国决定的。

Tecno is present in other places in Africa and has an assembly line of its own in Ethiopia. But it has almost no profile in the now hypercompetitive Chinese market — as one of its executives explained in 2013, the company only did business in Africa (although it entered the Indian market earlier this year.

如今Tecno遍布非洲各地,在埃塞俄比亚也有了自己的组装线。但它在如今竞争激烈的中国市场上,几乎没有任何知名度,正如其高管在2013年解释的那样,该公司只在非洲开展业务(尽管在今年早些时候进入了印度市场)。



Workers prepare to hoist a Tecno Mobile sign above a new phone store in Kigali, Rwanda. (Photo: Will Boase/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

在卢旺达基加利的一家新手机店,工人们正准备挂一个Tecno手机的招牌。

Like other Chinese companies, Tecno is active in places where it can saturate an underdeveloped market and leverage its advantages in sheer scale. It has the profile of a private enterprise, but its credit and financing sources are still opaque. “They’re very much integrated in the Chinese economic plan,” alleges Akindije, AfriOne’s director of strategy.

像其他中国公司一样,Tecno也在利用其规模庞大的优势,积极地渗透那些不发达的市场。它拥有一家私营企业的形象,但其信贷和融资来源仍不透明。“他们在中国的经济计划中十分和谐,”AfriOne的战略总监Akindije说道。

Nigeria can’t move forward without companies like Tecno. Only Chinese producers have proven capable or even interested in offering Nigerians the chance to own internet-enabled devices on such a vast scale.

如果没有像Tecno这样的公司,尼日利亚是无法前进的。只有中国生产商被证明是有能力,甚至是有兴趣为尼日利亚人提供如此大规模的拥有互联网功能设备的机会。

But scale has its drawbacks too. David Shinn, formerly the U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia and now a leading scholar on Chinese-African economic relations, explained that there’s a long-standing pattern of Chinese imports making identical African products uncompetitive, even in the countries in which they are made. According to one widely-cited study, a surge in imported Chinese batteries led to a 70 percent plunge in the export of Cameroonian-made batteries to neighboring west African countries over a two-year span in the mid-2000s, smothering a productive industry — even in Cameroon, the Chinese imports sold for about a third the price of the local product. “Oftentimes the Chinese are able to undersell the African product, and it creates a real problem for Africans to industrialize or get beyond the export or the production of primary products,” Shinn said.

但这种状况也是有缺点的。David Shinn是前美国驻埃塞俄比亚大使,现在是研究中国-非洲经济关系的重要学者,他解释道,这里有一种长期存在的状况,就是中国的进口产品会使相同的非洲产品毫无竞争力,即使是在生产它们的国家里也是如此。据一份研究报告显示,2000年代中期,中国进口电池激增,导致在两年的时间里喀麦隆制造的电池出口到周边西非国家总量暴跌70%,甚至在喀麦隆,中国的进口商品以当地产品大约三分之一价格出售。Shinn说道:“通常情况下,中国人可以用比非洲产品更低廉的价格出售商品,这给非洲工业以及超越出口额和农产品的生产带来很大的问题。”

Shinn rejects the idea that China has a “neo-colonial” approach to Africa. “There’s no effort at governmental control of anything,” he explained “That’s not what they’re doing. But it is a mercantilistic approach. It’s not necessarily programmed [that way] but that’s the way it functions.” A resource-hungry China is sending smartphones and batteries to Africa — and getting oil, minerals and natural gas in return. In the process, Chinese companies gain access to rapidly growing consumer markets that are relatively free of major competitors.

Shinn否认了中国以“新殖民主义”对待非洲的看法。“让政府去管控任何事是没有用的”,他解释道,“虽然这不是他们正在做的事情。但这是一种重商主义的模式。尽管不一定是这样计划的,但还是起了作用。”一个渴求资源的中国正在向非洲输送智能手机和电池,以此获得石油、矿产和天然气。在这一过程中,中国企业得以进入快速增长的消费者市场,而这些市场相对而言是没有主要的竞争对手的。

Aubrey Hruby, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and an expert in Chinese-African trade, doubts that a relatively small Nigerian newcomer like AfriOne can break this dynamic. “It’s hard for me to believe that the local players can gain any competitive edge against [Chinese producers] without some major protectionism on the part of the government,” she says. “The Chinese players have scale. And they have a long-term outlook, and an ability to lose money and have very low margins for a while to take market share away from Samsung. That’s who Tecno’s competing with — it’s Samsung.”

Aubrey Hruby是大西洋理事会的非常驻高级研究员,也是中非贸易的专家。他怀疑这种较小型的像AfriOne这样的尼日利亚新企业,是否能打破这种局面。她说:“这令我我很难相信,如果政府没有一些重大的保护主义措施,靠本土企业就能在与中国生产商的竞争中获得竞争优势。”“中国企业有很大的规模,有长远的眼光,有能力亏损,而且有一段时间可以从三星那里抢走市场份额获得少许利润。Tecno正在跟三星竞争。”



Lekan Akinjide, AfriOne’s director of strategy and government coordination, on the production floor at the new AfriOne manufacturing plant in Lagos in April 2017. The plant can produce some 120,000 units per month. (Photo: George Osodi/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

上图为Lekan Akinjide,AfriOne的战略与管理协调主任,2017年4月在拉各斯州AfriOne的新制造工厂里的生产车间里。这家工厂每个月能生产大约12万个单位的产品。

Nigeria is a relatively poor country — it places 152nd out of the 188 states on the U.N.’s Human Development Index. It’s also famously capitalistic. In the absence of a functional state or reliable public services, Nigerians survive through barely-regulated market competition. “Lagos is one of very few cities in the world where you can get up, go across the road, and just start selling mobile phones.” says Ugo Obi-Chukwu, editor of the Nigerian business website Nairametrics. “Anybody can sell anything here. There are no restrictions. If we didn’t have that, people would’ve taken to the streets.”

尼日利亚是一个相对而言比较贫穷的国家,它在联合国的人类发展指数统计里在188个国家中排名第152位。它也是著名的资本主义国家。而在缺乏功能状态或可靠的公共服务的情况下,尼日利亚人通过不规范的市场竞争生存下来。“拉各斯是世界上为数不多的可以乱穿马路,然后开始推销手机的城市之一。尼日利亚商业网站Nairametrics的编辑Ugo Obi-Chukwu乌说道。“任何人都可以在这里卖任何东西。没有什么限制。但如果我们没有这些的话,人们早就上街头了。”

The precariousness of everyday life means that anyone selling a smartphone is asking consumers to ignore more pressing needs. Smartphones are still aspirational products, a luxury that 70 percent of the population doesn’t own. Selling is hard enough to begin with — but building something new is even more difficult.

日常生活的不稳定意味着,任何销售智能手机的人都会让消费者忽略更加迫切的需求。而智能手机仍然是一种梦寐以求的产品,70%的人都不拥有这种奢侈品。也就是说销售手机是一件很难的事,但是要想建立某种新的东西就更加困难了。



Sahir Berry, AfriOne’s 32-year-old CEO, says producing phones in Nigeria was a rational business decision. Because it’s the first smartphone assembly line in Nigeria, the AfriOne factory got “pioneer status” from the Nigerian government, meaning it can operate essentially tax-free for five years. The government is also newly committed to buying “made in Nigeria” products, as long as they meet a certain standard of quality — a development hinting at a major source of future business for AfriOne. Berry added that the duties on completed phones were four times higher than on imported phone components. “But,” he conceded, “that’s not helping us at the moment because nobody’s declaring anything that’s coming through the ports. Nobody’s playing by the rules.”

AfriOne的32岁的首席执行官Sahir Berry说道,在尼日利亚生产手机是一个很合理的商业决定。因为这是尼日利亚的第一个智能手机的组装流水线,而且AfriOne的工厂还从尼日利亚政府那里获得了“先锋地位”,这意味着它可以在5年内免税。政府还承诺要收购“尼日利亚制造”的产品,只要它们符合一定的质量标准——这些发展都暗示着AfriOne的主要未来业务源。Berry补充说道,组装手机的税收是进口手机零部件的四倍。“但是”,他承认,“目前这对我们来说没有任何帮助,因为没有人能够管理通过港口的任何东西。致使没有人按规则行事。”

Sahir Berry, CEO of AfriOne, and Hemang Kapur, a director of AfriOne, prepare a display of AfriOne Gravity Z1 smartphones during a launch event in April 2017. (Photo: George Osodi/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

上图为AfriOne的首席执行官Sahir Berry和AfriOne的主任Hemang Kapur,为在2017年4月的展览活动中推出AfriOne的Gravity Z1智能手机做准备。

This sums up the pitfalls of trying to manufacture in Nigeria. Vague or nonexistent regulations, unreliable electricity, bad roads and an atmosphere of general disorder threaten any industrial undertaking. “You have ad hoc roadblocks all around the country, even within Lagos,” explained Ikemesit Effiong, a Lagos-based research analyst at SBM Intelligence. “There are arbitrary levies that add to the cost of goods and services. This disincentivizes Nigerian manufacturers from pricing competitively.” In 2015, the Economist reported that in Lagos, Nigerian-produced milk was selling for twice the price of imports.

在这里总结了在尼日利亚尝试搞生产加工行业的缺陷:模糊或者可以说得上不存在的法规,时有时无的电力,糟糕的道路和普遍混乱的氛围,这些都对任何工业企业造成威胁。 “在全国各地都有特别的临时路障,甚至在拉各斯也有,”Ikemesit Effiong说道,他是一个位于拉各斯的研究分析员。“这里对各类商品和服务任意征取税收。而这就使得尼日利亚的制造商很难具有竞争力。”在2015年,据《经济学人》的报道,在拉各斯,尼日利亚本地产的牛奶售价是进口价格的两倍。

AfriOne’s factory is a nondescript building next to a bustling highway that links the working-class mainland to the skyscrapers on Lagos and Victoria Island. Berry, who was born in Abuja and partly grew up in Nigeria, said discussion of launching a smartphone line began at Contec in February 2016. Developers in India, Dubai and Nigeria looked at an AfriOne market survey of 500 Nigerians and tried to design a dual-SIM-card 25,000-35,000 naira ($70-$95) phone based on the results. Both the Lagos factory and the first prototype were ready just 11 months later.

AfriOne的工厂是一座不起眼的建筑,它紧邻着一条繁忙的高速公路,这条公路把工人阶级居住的地区跟拉各斯和维多利亚岛的摩天大厦连接起来。Berry出生于阿布贾,在尼日利亚长大。他说,关于推出智能手机链的讨论是在2016年2月的康泰克开始的。印度、迪拜和尼日利亚的开发人员都在调查一项针对500名尼日利亚人的AfriOne的市场调查,并试着根据结果设计一种双卡双待式的售价为70-95奈拉的手机(70-95美元)。位于拉各斯的工厂和第一个手机原型都在11个月后就准备好了。

The factory employs 150 Nigerians. Lagos is a hard place to make ends meet: one worker in her early 20s, a recent business administration graduate, said she would be braiding hair if she didn’t have a factory job. The facility is clean, spacious and hushed, as if in defiance of its frenzied surroundings. Low-powered LED tubes cast a soft glow over ice-smooth concrete floors and rows of workers boxing tablets that they had assembled the week before: the factory is also churning out two-in-one devices (laptops that can convert to tablets) built out of imported components. It’s a low-electricity operation: On the day I visited, the entire factory was being powered through an inverter and a battery storing energy from a switched-off generator.

这家工厂雇佣了150名尼日利亚人。拉各斯是一个很难做到收支平衡的地方:一位20岁出头的工人说道,她是刚毕业工商管理专业的学生,如果她没有得到这间工厂的工作,她就会去干一些不光彩的工作。工厂环境干净、宽敞、安静,与其周围混乱的环境格格不入。低能耗的LED灯管在光滑的混凝土地板上投射出柔和的光芒,还有成排的工人们在包装前一周组装完成的平板电脑,工厂也在生产用进口部件制造的二合一设备(可以变成平板电脑的笔记本电脑),而且工厂以低电耗的方式运行着,在我参观的那一天,整间工厂都是靠一个变流器和一个蓄电池在一个关着的发动机作用下运行的。



The exterior of AfriOne’s Lagos factory. (Photo: Armin Rosen for Yahoo News)

AfriOne在拉各斯的工厂门面。

Berry acknowledged the difficulty of competing with imported brands but said, “We want to be the first pan-African mobile phone company.” He has ambitions for the plant to someday turn out a half-million devices a month, from components that will eventually be made in Nigeria.  “We’re hoping that over the next couple of years some smart people will say you know what, we don’t need to import the microphone, we can produce it here,” said Berry. “We’re trying to create an industry.”

Berry深知与进口品牌竞争的困难,但他仍然说道:“我们想要成为第一家泛非洲的移动电话公司。”他希望这家工厂有朝一日一个月能生产出50万部产品,而这些产品所需要的零件也总有一天会是尼日利亚制造。”“我们希望在接下来的几年里,我们再不需要进口手机,而我们可以在这里将所需要的手机生产出来,”Berry说。“我们正在努力打造一个产业。”

The factory, and the reality of a “made in Nigeria” smartphone, prove that the creation of a new high-tech manufacturing sector isn’t an impossible leap for Nigeria. But the facility and its products are just early steps in that direction, and their eventual payoff remains unclear. For now, when inching through the gridlock toward Lagos Island, it’s possible to totally miss that the AfriOne factory is even there. The same can’t be said for a building-sized billboard for Tecno’s Carmon CX phone next to Bonny Bridge in Victoria Island, where a trio of Manchester City players invite Lagosians to “show off your quality selfie.”

这家工厂,以及现在“尼日利亚制造”的智能手机的实际情况,足以证明了尼日利亚的新高科技制造业的飞跃并非是实现不了。但该公司的设备及其产品只是朝这个方向刚刚踏出去的一小步,其结果现在尚未清楚。就目前而言,当我们缓慢地穿过通往拉各斯岛的交通堵塞时,我们完全有可能完全忽略掉AfriOne的这间工厂。但在维多利亚岛上的Bonny大桥旁边的一个Tecno的Carmon CX phone的大型广告牌却不是这种情形,广告牌上三位曼城的球员邀请拉各斯人“展示你高质量的自拍吧”。