Nigeria spent $3.47bn importing phones, generating sets, electrical transformers, and a host of other electrical equipment in 2022.

This is based on data culled from the International Trade Center. The ITC gets its data from the National Bureau of Statistics and the United Nations COMTRADE.

According to the multilateral agency, which has a joint mandate with the World Trade Organisation and the United Nations, Nigeria’s electrical importation bill grew by 11.90 per cent from the $3.09bn it was in 2022. Also, over the last three years, Nigeria has spent $10.26bn importing electrical equipment amid falling foreign exchange reserves.

Imports under the electrical machinery and equipment category on the ITC portal include, but are not limited to, electric motors and generators, electric generating sets, electrical transformers, vacuum cleaners, electric shavers, hair clippers, and telephone sets which include smartphones, facsimile machines for line telephony, teleprinters, and parts of telephone sets.

Total phone imports in 2022 was put at $773.56m, a 0.17 per cent year-on-year increase from $772.25m as of 2021. $468.65m worth of electric motors and electric generating, and $357.36m worth of electrical transformers were also imported.

Cumulatively, the three products constituted 46.06 per cent of total electrical equipment importation in 2022. Most of the equipment were imported from China, India, Germany, Türkiye, Sweden, United States of America, United Kingdom, Austria, Italy, Vietnam, and France.

Despite the liberalisation of its telecommunication sector over 20 years ago, Nigeria does not locally manufacture phones and most of the equipment needed in the telecom sector.

According to the Nigerian Communications Commission, about 63 million technology devices are sold in Nigeria yearly. Nigeria’s phone market is dominated by foreign players like Tecno, Samsung, Apple, and Itel. Despite having the seventh-highest number of phones in the world, buoyed by its large mobile subscribers, according to the World Population Review, the country’s local phone manufacturing industry is non-existent.

Recently, the IDC said, “Nigeria’s smartphone market declined 32.1 per cent YoY in Q4 2022 due to sustained high inflation and a shortage of U.S. dollars in the country.”

Nigeria’s smartphone market declined 32.1% YoY in Q4 2022 due to sustained high inflation and a shortage of US dollars in the country.

In an earlier interview with The PUNCH, the Chief Operating Officer, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, Ajibola Olude, said poor electricity supply, lack of regulatory enforcement, disdain for local content, and a lack of technical know-how were reasons affecting local phone manufacturing in the country.

Lamenting on the continued dependence on imported electrical equipment in an earlier interview with The PUNCH, an associate professor of Economics at the Pan Atlantic University, Olalekan Aworinde, said, “The implication of this is many. For instance, foreign exchange management, all those goods were paid for in dollars.

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