Mi-Fone to open UAE factory in August 2011

Company CEO shrugs off problems associated with manufacturing in the region

Tags: ManufacturingMi-Fone (www.mi-fone.mobi/)United Arab Emirates
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Mi-Fone to open UAE factory in August 2011 Mi-Fone CEO Alpesh Patel has confirmed that the company is hoping to have their UAE mobile phone factory up and running by August 2011.
By  Georgina Enzer Published  November 30, 2010

Alpesh Patel, CEO and creator of the rapidly growing low-cost mobile phone producer Mi-Fone has revealed that they hope to begin building their UAE mobile phone manufacturing plant by August 2011 and has said the problems associated with manufacturing in the region can be easily overcome.

"We have concrete plans in that all our feasibility studies have been completed. We now wait to decide on the best location that suits our specific requirements. We are currently also waiting to finalize the financial terms for this local investment," Patel told ITP.net.

Patel has shrugged off the problems of manufacturing sensitive electronics products in the arid and often dusty environment of the region, saying they will learn from those who have already adapted to the environment here in the UAE. "Our processes will be fully certified to ensure all environmental conditions can be met. There is a lot of light industry in areas like RAK, Jebel Ali so we will be learning a lot from them in how to adapt to this environment. Our processors will not be manufactured here. They will be shipped in stored and used within industry practices," he said.

The Mi-Fone CEO is excited about the prospect of using the UAE's most abundant resource, the sun, in their manufacturing process.

"A big benefit of setting up here is using the natural resource that UAE has an abundance of - solar power. Our plant will be partly powered by solar," said Patel.

Mi-Fone is planning to eventually employ 250 people at the factory; this workforce will be a mix of UAE nationals and expatriates, although initially, much of their workforce will be manual labour sourced from local agents. Mi-Fone will be providing training for these workers to ensure their standards are maintained.

For the skilled labour, the Mi-Fone CEO said they will be bringing in employees from India.

"With regards to our software department we will be bringing in a team of highly qualified telecoms software developers from India. These people will be tasked with coordinating with regional software experts in order to provide customised relevant content on our handsets to the end markets," said Patel.

He is confident that the cost of manufacturing here in the UAE will be cheaper than their current location in China, where industry average wages and other costs are rising, most notably after worker suicides at Foxconn, the manufacturer of Apple's iPhone increased scrutiny on the industry. Mi-Fone will be bringing in the components used in the phones from outside the region and assembling the handsets here.

"Currently most production is done in China however there is immense pressure on the currency and wages are increasing. I refer you to the recent Foxconn suicide incidents. They increased wages by 70% - that is going to be added to handset prices. What we are doing is bringing in the components- and using local labour to assemble and local software developers to finalise the product. The imported parts will form a minor percentage of the overall end cost," said Patel.

The CEO says that they will also be able to save money here in the UAE through the use of well-established transport and logistics links from here to neighbouring markets such as the rest of the Middle East, Africa and the CIS.

"It is cheaper to transport goods from here [UAE] to say Iraq then from China to Iraq. Additional benefits include the benefit of localised software, lower minimum order quantities, local/ regional service support and faster lead times for customers, and above all the ‘Made in UAE' label," added Patel

Mi-Fone, established in 2008 already has a strong presence in Africa, India and South Asia and is currently breaking into the Middle East market.

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