Toshiba takes on East Africa with Al Futtaim Technologies

Notebook manufacturer Toshiba has upped the vendor ante in East Africa, revealing full details of its distribution partnership with Al Futtaim in the region — a tie-up aimed at boosting both sales and service availability in the emerging markets of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

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By  Stuart Wilson Published  August 6, 2006

Notebook manufacturer Toshiba has upped the vendor ante in East Africa, revealing full details of its distribution partnership with Al Futtaim in the region — a tie-up aimed at boosting both sales and service availability in the emerging markets of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. “There have been some major developments in the East African IT channel,” explained Leon Gifford, regional sales and marketing manager Levant and Africa at Toshiba. “Retail is really starting to develop in Kenya with major chains such as Nakumaat starting to sell IT products. This is basically a first in East Africa and we are also seeing developments from companies such as Jacky’s in the region.” Al Futtaim has set up operations in Kenya and Uganda under the name Aftech and also launched an operation in Tanzania called Tamasco. Each office will consist of a team of dedicated staff to handle all sales, marketing and services operations. Al Futtaim will work closely with local resellers and handle all marketing and service operations in collaboration with Toshiba Gulf. “Toshiba was looking for a partner that could cover the East African market and provide complete solutions to customers in each of these countries. Based on our existing association with Al Futtaim Technologies and their position as one of the fastest-growing technology solutions providers, they were an obvious choice for us,” said Gifford. “From a technological standpoint, Kenya is well established and is fast adopting new technologies as well as creating an infrastructure that supports these technologies. For Toshiba, East Africa is an emerging market with huge potential, and this is why we, together with Aftech, are investing heavily in the region,” Gifford continued.. Ramesh Belani, sales and marketing manager at Al Futtaim Technologies, said: “We are committed to providing the best quality pre and after-sales service to Toshiba’s customers in the East African market. We are looking forward to building on our existing relationship with Toshiba and are confident that our extensive experience will enable Toshiba to successfully reach customers in these countries.” Estimates on the overall size of the market in East Africa can vary wildly. The multiple product flows into the region, coupled with the relatively unstructured channel, leave analysts making guesstimates at best. “In Africa we currently work in Ghana, Nigeria and Libya as well as East Africa,” said Gifford. “These markets together constitute 4.9% of our total business in the Middle East and Africa. Out of the 4.9%, East Africa is 30% of this share highlighting why it is a target market for us. We expect the market to grow significantly.”

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