Before the introduction of mobile phones in Nigeria in 2001, the country had landlines; just about 450, 000 people had them. With the coming of mobile phones, the number of phone lines skyrocketed to 30 million by 2016. So far phones have become both a necessity and status symbol, basically a must have. This necessity has always been acquired with cash in hand; hence, if you don’t have that N15, 000 for your children’s stay-at-home mobile phone or that N315, 000 for a smart phone that makes you stand out as a business executive, you are not getting a mobile phone.
Today, cash in hand is no longer compulsory to buy a phone, so say Solo, Airtel, and RenMoney at a press briefing in Lagos where they launched the Solo Aspire M smart phone available for N4,150 monthly on the Airtel network, with RenMoney as the credit providers.
Wole Abu, Head of Sales, Airtel Nigeria, who represented the Chief Commercial Officer, said; “This partnership is exciting because it underscores our value for innovation as a company. We try to anticipate the customer’s needs and meet optimally. With what we have today, we are putting real value in the hands of the people. This collaboration means that you don’t have to spend all your money to by a phone; it is about giving customers what they need without breaking a sweat.” For the smart phone maker, Tayo ogundipe, Solo’s Chief Executive Officer, it is about smart phone penetration. “This is about finding a solution to a problem that exists, which is smart phone penetration. We are passionate about this because for most in Africa, the smart phone is the only computer they ever come across. The whole point is to help democratic ownership of smart phones to improve the quality of life for Africans. We have identified access to credit has a major barrier, hence this partnership. “In developed climes, nobody pays the full price for a phone and it is really hampering smart phone penetration in Africa. The point of this innovation is to bridge the gap which the absence of financial history has caused.”
Aiming at changing lives, Ian Abrahams of RenMoney disclosed; “Our mission is to provide simple financial solutions. Our partnership is to change the lives of every Nigerian. We chose to partner with Solo because they can provide a smart, good, easy to use and affordable smart phone. We chose Airtel because they have the volume and reach to get us to where we want to be. “For us to make this work we cannot wait for two weeks for credit. This credit is available in 10 minutes. So far we have given 981 phones in the pilot phase. All the rigours of regular banking have been eliminated.” Explaining the details of the offer, Bobby Iduoze, Senior Manager Devices and Data provided; “With N4,150 cash payment and the same amount subsequently for 12 months, you get a new Solo Aspire M smart phone, 12GB data, 720 minutes free call and SMS and unlimited social bundle.
After the first cash payment subsequent payments are to a designated account that cannot be used for regular phone credit functions. You simply dial *486*pin#. “Existing Airtel users need to have spent a stipulated number of months on the network, those not on Airtel will have to get on the network. The next stage is provide proof of identity, proof of address and BVN for documentation purposes. For repairs and replacement, there is full phone insurance for N1, 500. When the network is notified upon loss or theft, the phone will be locked. Defaulters’ phones will also be locked.”
The Solo Aspire M smart phone is fitted with quad core, 1GB RAM, 8GB ROM, Android 5.1, 1,800 mAH, 13 mega pixel camera, as well as a 5 inches screen, to mention a few.