Samsung Africa Forum 2010 Brings Africa Together for Growth.

I am currently in Johannesburg in South Africa after attending the inaugural Samsung Africa Forum 2010 that showcased 500 of Samsung Electronics (Samsung) innovative products. The event clearly indicated that Samsung has big plans for Africa across the board. Samsung is the global leader in digital media and digital convergence technologies having been founded in South Korea 41 years ago.

The Samsung Africa Forum is a three-day extravaganza where Samsung will showcase the latest innovations across all of its product categories, from audio visual and home appliances, to mobile handsets, digital cameras and notebooks. The forum was attended by key media, customers, distributors and top Samsung executives and government officials. The forum aims to promote co-operation, innovation and the exchange of new ideas in technology.

Outlining the company’s roadmap for growth in Africa, Mr. KK Park, head of Samsung Electronics African Headquarters, said: “With 980 million people, 15 percent of the world’s population lives in Africa, but the region produces only 2.6 percent of global GDP. In our view, that growth potential is an enormous opportunity to do business and increase our market share on the continent.”

“In 2010, we are focusing in on Africa’s top 10 economies, which together generate 79 percent of the region’s wealth and house almost 47 percent of the population. Our key focus countries continue to be those with large and growing populations, such as South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Sudan,” Mr. Park said.

Samsung is currently the African market share leader in the broad consumer electronics category, including being the No. 1 brand for TV’s, SBS Refrigerators. Plans are underway to achieve leadership in other categories, including mobile phones, washing machines and air conditioners, through Samsung’s innovative product lineup, enhancing in-country marketing, strengthening distributor infrastructure, as well as tightening and improving supply chain management.

Showing its strong commitment to the region, Samsung continues to expand its in-market presence with subsidiaries and branch offices, as well as the appointment of 12 senior country managers.  Samsung currently employs 242 local staff across five subsidiaries and offices.

“Our business model, although global in nature, is tailored to suit each individual market we enter, and our African strategy caters specifically for African market requirements,” Mr. Park explained. “For example, in Africa refrigerator demand is for larger capacity models in comparison to customers in Europe. Customizing the product lineup for each market is a crucial element in our success.”

Samsung has also sought to address the regional issue of counterfeit or gray market products infiltrating the market, specifically in the mobile phone space. The company aims to minimize and eradicate parallel importation through the use of e-warranties, where customers register product serial numbers prior to purchase. Initial data on the success of this initiative looks promising.

Importantly, Samsung’s commitment to Africa extends beyond market leadership to its role as a contributing member of African society and supporter of regional development. Mr. Park concludes: “Samsung has always strongly believed in nurturing a win-win partnership where the company gives back to the countries it does business in. To this end we have addressed the education, skills and unemployment challenges faced by many African countries today by launching initiatives such as the Samsung Real Dreams project, aimed at practical skills transfer, education and assisting disadvantaged youth to find meaningful employment.”

With the explosive growth predicted for Africa, Samsung is well positioned to be part of revolutionizing the region into a truly world class player on the world stage.

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