They also lauded the high adaptability of the workers which has expedited the growth
Once solely import-dependent, Bangladesh is on track in becoming self-reliant in smartphone production, which already captures a whopping 82% market share with local manufacturing just after three years of inception.
Manufacturers, even with the existing setup, are now eying to start exporting smartphones by the next two years, with continued government support.
Smartphone producers of the country have given the credit for such a mammoth rise to the policies adopted by the government which provided attractive incentives and a friendly investment climate to ensure growth in this sector.
They also lauded the high adaptability of the workers which has expedited the growth.
Against the annual demand of 6.82 million smartphone units in 2019-20FY, Bangladesh manufactured as many as 5.58 million smartphones, which translates to 81.81% of the total market demand.
According to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), the total number of handsets manufactured and imported in the country in 2019-20FY was 29.48 million units.
Of which 14.98 million units --51% -- were locally manufactured by 10 local companies whereas 14.50 million units -- 49% -- had to be imported.
One thing to be noted is that, of the total mobile phones used in the country, 92% are feature phones and only 8% are smartphones.
In the FY20, the country sold 6.82 million smartphones, of which 5.58 million -- 81.81% -- units were locally manufactured and the rest 1.23 million --7.19% -- were imported.
When it comes to feature phones, Bangladesh heavily relies on other countries. In the FY20 it imported 13.26 million units of feature phones, while the local manufacturers produced 9.40 million units.
Factors responsible for growth
“It’s a great achievement and a matter of pride that just within three years ‘Made in Bangladesh’ tagged smartphones have taken a lead in the market and grabbed 82% market share,” said Rezwanul Haque, chief executive officer of Transsion, a mobile phone manufacturer, to Dhaka Tribune.
“This has been made possible due to the government’s brilliant policies encouraging domestic manufacturing.
“While the adaptability of our workers and low-cost labour also helped the local producers to achieve such a tremendous success,” he added.
Besides, the move of the mobile phone brands and the government to capture a large chunk of the market through domestic production was another factor, he said.
“In 2018, the government decided to reduce import dependency and promote domestic manufacturing of mobile phones through policy support.
“As a part of this, the government incentivized local manufacturing, while discouraging imports through duty hike,” said Md Mesbah Uddin Ahmed, chief marketing officer of Fair Electronics, the local manufacturer of Samsung handsets.
“These changes resulted in homegrown as well as foreign brands to start manufacturing in Bangladesh where there is a huge market of smartphones and it is easier to capture it with the local production,” said Mesbah.
“Since it is a technology-based business, it took time and we geared up production in 2019 and onwards, which helped us to grab the market,” he added.
‘Made in Bangladesh’ smartphones to see export by 2022
“Since we have the capacity and are already very close to meet our own demand, there is the scope for export and I am hoping to start exporting within the next two years,” said Transsion’s Rezwanul Haque.
“Bangladesh has to improve its quality and become mature in manufacturing to start exporting. While improving the skills of the workers and taking them to the next level of manufacturing is also very crucial in this effort,” he added.
“Since the business of mobile handset manufacturing is relocating from China and landing to Vietnam and India. In a bid to take advantage of this, we have to properly prepare ourselves and offer attractive business prospects,” he said.
“Since locally produced smartphones are good in quality, this will help us to get a hold in the global market.
“There are good policies in place for this but we lack infrastructure and continuation of these policies will help the manufacturers to start export of smartphones and the government is committed to provide all-out support for this endeavor,” he added.
Contacted, Post and Telecommunication Minister Mustafa Jabbar, said: “Along with the existing manufacturers, a good number of others are also waiting in the pipeline to start production.
“So, very soon, the local market will be occupied by domestic manufacturers and soon this will open export opportunities for us.”
“For the exporters, we already have offered a 10% cash incentive and they will get it after exporting,” the minister added.
“I would like to give all a good news that Samsung is going to start manufacturing a fifth-generation (5G) smartphone in Bangladesh.
“Since we are yet to launch 5G in the country, this smartphone will be exported from here,” added the minister.
Taking a look at the local mobile phone companies, Walton, manufacturer of electronics and home appliances, topped the chart with a 33% market share with 4.95 million handsets, while Samsung manufactures 97,3000, which are mostly smartphones.
On the other hand, Symphony manufactured a total of 1.42 million units followed by Five Star with 568,500, Itel, Techno 4.28 million, Winstar 1.07 million, Vivo 972,381, Lava 225,000, DTC 1,800 and Oppo 511,123 units of smartphones.