Chinese handset maker Oppo is all set to launch its “Made in Bangladesh” smartphones in the local market this month as its mobile assembly plant goes into commercial production.
This will allow local consumers to buy Oppo devices at reasonable prices and strengthen the Chinese company’s foothold in the fast-growing market.
Initially, Oppo plans to assemble its two mid-range sets — Oppo A5 and Oppo A1K — in the plant in Gazipur and the sets will be available this November.
The company has targeted to assemble one million devices per annum.
Oppo is the third Chinese company to have set up mobile manufacturing plant in Bangladesh, following in footsteps of Transsion and Vivo.
Bangladesh’s recent economic progress and the growth forecast has brought Oppo to Bangladesh and set up the plant, said Damon Yang, managing director of the company’s local operations.
“Currently, Bangladesh is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and the country is already in a leading position in terms of digitalisation. The country is also eying to be the early mover in adopting 5G technology.”
Yang said by setting up the plant, Oppo will be able to offer smartphones at a reasonable price and it will facilitate the revolution of high-speed internet across the country.
“Also, this investment from Oppo will create jobs and develop a pool of technically skilled workforce in the country,” he said.
Oppo did not disclose how much it invested in Bangladesh. Local firm Benli Electronic Enterprise Co Ltd is the local partner of the plant.
Oppo has employed more than 200 locals to run the plant. The company is also eying export potential.
The new plant will take the number of mobile manufacturing plants of Oppo, the fifth largest handset manufacturer in the world, to 10 across the globe.
According to a report of Counterpoint Research Market Monitor, the company shipped 56.3 million pieces of devices globally in the first half of 2019, which was 58.9 million in the second half last year.
Oppo has been in Bangladesh for five years and from the beginning, it has been bringing in quality smartphones, changing the business dynamics in the smart device segment in Bangladesh.
The increase in tax on the imports of smartphones in the current budget to 57 percent from 32 percent acted as a catalyst in pushing the Chinese company to set up the plant, an employee of the company said.
“Without owning a plant, one cannot be price-competitive and customers will not get cost-efficient smart devices,” he said.
Earlier in the fiscal 2016-17, the government formulated the tax policy on setting up mobile assembling plants after bringing down the cost of raw materials to 1 percent, from as high as 96 percent in some cases, and increasing the tax on imports gradually.
Oppo said its five-year experience of doing business in Bangladesh also gave it confidence to set up the plant. It also took into account the growing demand of the market, as it looks to strengthen its ability to meet the growing demand.
Currently, there is a demand for 10 lakh pieces of smartphones in Bangladesh every month.
As of August, there are 16.26 crore active mobile connections in the country. Of them, 9.24 crore are connected with internet.
The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has given 10 licences to set up plants. Eight of them have started assembling handsets. Local brand Walton showed the way after it started making mobile phones in its own plant in October 2017. Since then, it has not imported a single device.
Global brand Samsung’s plant assembles 96 percent of the products it sells locally. It only imports flagship products and plans to stop importing from the first quarter next year.
Chinese company Transsion Bangladesh Limited does not import any product. Once a market leader, Symphony also assembles a significant volume of devices every month.