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Electronics giant LG picks Nairobi as pioneer Africa hub to launch its latest products

A customer walks past an LG Electronics' flat-screen television sets displayed for sale at a shop.  PHOTO | FILE | REUTERS
A customer walks past an LG Electronics' flat-screen television sets displayed for sale at a shop. PHOTO | FILE | REUTERS 

LG, the global electronics giant, has chosen Kenya as one of its pioneering African markets where it intends to launch its latest technological innovations.

The South Korean company says it is planning to introduce its latest washing machines, dishwashers, TVs, mobile phones, ovens, gas cookers and other products in Nairobi.

“We are looking to launch our new products in Kenya because it has an ever-increasing middle and top class.

"We also consider the country quite stable and with an ever-improving service industry underpinned by sound infrastructure,” said Janghoon Eric Chung, the company’s managing director for Africa Logistics on the sidelines of the company’s marketing conference in Barcelona, Spain.

He added that although LGs’ products were primarily tailored for the high-end market, the company perceived the Kenyan market as one of a few in Africa with a strong inclination for modern technology and the latest electronic innovations driven by a high internet penetration.

“Our survey of the Kenyan market shows that the average consumer has a taste for products that bring convenience, use clean energy and are efficient. So we are looking at a pricing regime that can tap more consumers,” he said.

Showcase products

The conference, dubbed LG Innofest 2017, is meant to showcase the company’s newest products that have just been introduced to the developing world.

In particular, Mr Janghoon said, the company will introduce to Kenyans the twin-wash machine that allows consumers to wash two loads of laundry at the same time.

It will also launch the OLED TVs which are less than 4mm thick when measured from the wall to which they can be mounted with magnetic brakes without any gap between them and the wall.

Also lined up for launch are products that show the company’s latest foray into the development of intelligent robots and developments in the Internet of Things ecosystem.

The products in this category include a home robot that doubles up as a smart home gateway and intelligent home notification centre.

Mr Moses Marji, the Marketing director for East Africa, said the company did not feel threatened by cheaper Chinese products rivalling it in the market, saying LG had a niche reach and would not compromise on quality “just to get one more consumer.”

He said the government’s effort to install electricity in rural areas presented the company and other global firms to create products equipped with the latest technology but targeted at poorer populations.

Undersupplied

The company’s Vice-President of Home Appliances Scott Jung said he believed Africa was under-supplied with regard to cutting edge innovations but more global companies were now positioning themselves to tap into its potential.

“Technology is progressing at a faster pace than ever and the force of of the change is becoming even more powerful.

"Today it has progressed to the point where innovation is no longer about creating a better life, instead it is the desire to create a better lifestyle for consumers,” said Mr Kevin Cha, the firm’s president for Middle East and Africa.

The Barcelona meeting, under the theme “Innovation for a better life,” was attended by more than 250 retailers, partners and customers from across the Middle East and Africa. It is held annually.

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