Hadi Md. Suruz Sarkar buys made in China devices from markets in Guangzhou, the capital city of Guangdong province in South China, and resells them at Bangladesh’s biggest underpass market in Dhaka’s Bangabandhu Square (Gulistan).
Sarkar’s shop is full of Chinese accessories and devices and, indeed, Bangladesh’s famed underpass market, is renown for all of its electrical goods, devices and gadgets up for sale, being brought from China.
Shopkeepers say the market has earned a good name and reputation across Bangladesh as it makes high quality devices and accessories of any kind available at reasonable prices.
They say even relatively unknown Chinese manufacturers have still been dominating Bangladesh’s mobile phone device and accessories market, despite Chinese smartphone brands like Huawei, ZTE and OPPO becoming increasingly popular in recent years, with the brands becoming pretty much household names here.
“We bring here high quality products from China. They (products) offer good services and we sell the products with official guarantees. We often find our customers very happy with the Chinese products. China is also very good in many other ways as a country, beyond electronics,” said Sarkar who often visits China.
“China is now an excellent country. The economic and security situation is very good there. Chinese people are very kind and supportive of foreigners. Once I had a trouble with my air ticket. They extended all-out support. Like Chinese people, Chinese products are also super-reliable and trustworthy.
Affordable and mid-range smartphones and cheaper but quality accessories
from China help not merely Bangladesh’s consumers but operators’ efforts to achieve more subscribers.
There are now well over 130 million subscribers in Bangladesh, with six mobile-phone operators competing neck-and-neck for new businesses.
“We have seen the Chinese brands as well as devices has helped to improve price point and make them affordable in Bangladesh,” said Supun Weerasinghe, managing director and chief executive officer of Bangladesh’s leading cell phone operator, Robi, which had 27.450 million subscribers as of February this year.
He said, “Chinese technology came in the form of network equipment and today Chinese companies are the leading telecom network manufacturers. And that certainly helped to provide an affordable connectivity service.”
“Handsets, which are manufactured by Chinese suppliers, certainly help to bring down the price of smart phones and make them more affordable to our consumers.”
Bangladesh is one of the top ten countries in terms of smartphone adaptation and growth, Weerasinghe said, adding the price level of the smartphones has been reducing recently and hence the ever-growing market potential.
And Bangladesh has large youth population. “More than 60 percent of the population is below 30 years old and solid demand is coming from youngsters for whom it’s relatively easy to adapt to new technology, especially the internet and smartphones.”
Syed Farhad Ahmed, managing director of Bangladesh’s leading Aamra group, a pioneer in the Information and Communication Technology industry of Bangladesh, having launched their computer and network services back in 1987, said, “China has already achieved MIC (Made in China) status.”
“People now often ask us what is MIC,” he said.
“We’re proud that our Chinese partners, to my mind, are producing world class devices especially mobile smartphones and other smart devices.”
“We are taking the initiative to locally assemble mobile handsets and devices. And hope that the first full assembly through a Chinese collaboration will be completed by the end of the year. We are also targeting the regional market (Nepal and Bhutan) and have plans to export to the Middle East.”
He said, “We’ve also something to learn from Chinese entrepreneurs. They are astute business people and they work hard to produce world class products and services with the best resources.”
Bangladesh State Minister for Posts and Telecommunications Division, Tarana Halim, has spoken highly of China and its companies for supporting the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government drives to to develop a digital Bangladesh by 2021.
“We work with different Chinese companies, South Korean companies, European companies and American companies. And it’s a combined effort of the government and all the companies that are making these dreams come true.”
“Our smartphone penetration is increasing day by day. And all the countries which manufacture smartphones at a comparatively low price a have huge market in Bangladesh.”