Nigeria Gives Huawei a Place to Prove Itself

Rocky You is determined to see his company’s $100 Chinese-made smartphone catch on in Nigeria, so he visits crowded Lagos shopping malls every few days to make his case directly to the sales clerks at cellphone shops and electronics stores.

“People making $2,000 or less a month,” says Mr. You, a 28-year-old senior account manager for Huawei Technologies Co., “those are the people we want to reach.”

While Huawei is one of the world’s biggest makers of telecommunications gear for service providers, the company only recently started selling consumer products such as smartphones and computer tablets. That has put the Chinese company at a disadvantage against big-name rivals, especially in established markets.

Nigeria holds promise. Pushed by a burgeoning middle class, cellphone usage is surging across Africa. Over half of the continent’s one billion people have cellphones. And in Nigeria, more than 90 million people have cellphones, up from less than a million 10 years ago, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, said in a recent speech.

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