ZTE mobile phone assembly plant in Africa closed

Closing of unprofitable plant casts doubt over second intended plant in Africa

The only mobile phone assembly plant in Africa owned by the Chinese telecommunications company ZTE Corp. has been closed, according to a company official.

ZTE official Lin Wen disclosed the closure last week. The plant, in Abuja, Nigeria, was set up in 2005 to ease the distribution of ZTE handsets in Africa.

The plant assembled and sold two flip phones after the Nigeria Communication Commission gave the company a clearance certificate.

There are no plans to reopen the plant because it was not profitable, Lin said.

The closure of the Nigeria plant has raised some doubts about whether the company will manage to run another assembly plant that it intends to set up in Zambia that will service southern Africa, which has 14 countries, including Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland, Malawi, and Botswana.

ZTE phones have failed to make any impact in Africa because they are more expensive than other options and there is stiff competition from Nokia, Motorola, and Samsung.

In most African countries, including Zambia, Kenya, and South Africa, Nokia and Motorola phones are priced as low as $40, while the cheapest ZTE phone is about $100.