Although analogue television (CRT TV) sets are still being used in different households in Addis Abeba, people in the capital city have been turning their heads towards Light Emitting Diode (LED) or smart TVs. It seems as if they are rushing to catch up with a new technology before it is outdated, one that is largely produced in the country, as BERHANE HAILEMARIAM, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, reports.
It is not like what it seems in the capital. Seeing how Fitawrari Gebeyehu Street near Anwar Mosque inside the biggest open market, Merkato, is swamped with various types of new model televisions gives an insight into what is happening in the city’s television market.
Every day, many different models of television get sold in this area alone. Yet, it is not distinctive to this area. As the number of households is increasing at an astonishing rate, the number of people who use such kinds of items is likely to show an upward trend.
Sintayehu Wabella, a 35-year-old electrician, has been using her old television for the past decade until she got persuaded by her friends, who have a retail shop in Merkato, to buy a locally manufactured smart, high definition (HD), slim, flat television six months ago. She bought the 32-inch Superfine Smart TV for 7,500 Br.
“Besides being cheap, its double screen guarantees the durability of the product for a long time,” she said, explaining why she preferred to buy this television. Although she could not use the Internet features since she has no access to Wi-Fi or wired Internet, she watches movies and listens to songs using USB flash devices on her TV.
Like Sintayehu, people in Addis Abeba have been turning their heads towards the slim LED TVs, in place of analogue TV sets, which were a trend in the TV market since the 1990s. It seems as if they are rushing to catch up with new technologies before they are outdated.
Watching TV is one of life’s simple delights for many including Sintayehu. Having a group of friends, neighbours and loved ones over to watch the best show on an ultra slim TV is becoming an apparent trend in the city.
Though in Ethiopia colour television broadcast began in 1982, these days the advent of Ultra TVs has become very casual. People buy high definition qualities and enjoy watching movies and shows at home and it has never been this good. Urbanites also enjoy watching their favourite movies paired with a favourite snack.
Nevertheless, what many people may not notice is that many of the LED TVs that people would curiously love to buy are being locally assembled and distributed.
“People assume that they are imported ones, but these TVs are also assembled in our country,” says Samuel Temesgen, a retailer of TVs and other electronic utilities around Mesgid in Merkato.
Samuel observes that the majority of the customers buy the locally assembled slim size and compact TV sets. He has TCL-LED and KONKA Smart TVs, both locally assembled TVs with sizes between 32 to 55 inches having a price range of 8,000 to 30,000 Br.
“There is a high demand for local LED Smart TVs, but the technology is not yet fully understood by the people,” explains Samuel.
Most of the customers who buy Smart TVs, according to Samuel, are people with high economic status and with a better understanding of technology. On the other hand, LG, Samsung and Sony are more preferred brands by several people.
The development of LED TV started from the conventional TVs to LCD and grew to what it is today with the introduction of the flat screen technology. The difference between these successive technologies is simply the source of light used for back-lighting and the reduced sizes of the gadgets following the developments. The current LED TVs are very slim, compact and portable.
Moreover, this technology came on the scene incorporating the Internet features. A smart TV uses either a direct, wired Internet connection or built-in Wi-Fi to connect to a home network for Internet access.
Some locally assembled TVs even have a fully featured web browser which allows access to most websites. It enables to browse the web, watch videos on YouTube and catch up on social media networks, such as Viber and Facebook.
Most internationally recognised TV brands are assembled in the country. This includes Samsung, LG, Konka, JVC and Sony. On top of this, Fana, Kodad, Sky Worth, Superfine, Amazz, Classic, Siyinix and Mewe are the other smart TVs which are assembled locally.
Jafar Mohammed is also among the no less than 20 retailers at Gojjam Berenda, along Habtegiorgis Street, who sell the locally assembled TV sets.
“As the preference of consumers has shifted towards LED technologies, we only stock few analogue TVs in our stores,” said Jafar Mohammed. He has three types of LEDs by brand, Superfine, Mewe and Coronet, in his nine sqm sized shop. He sells the TVs, with sizes between 24 to 55 inches, at a price ranging from 5,000 to 29,000 Br.
Jafar gets his Superfine brand TVs from Selam Business Group Plc, a local manufacturer of the Superfine television, DVD and other home appliances on Bisrate Gabriel Street, on the way to Jomo Street. The assembling plant started production six years ago in 2011, with an investment capital of 20 million Br and manufactures analogue and smart televisions.
“We are trying to enter the local market by targeting price sensitive buyers as imported flat screen TVs are not affordable to many,” Temesgen Tesfaye, general manager of the company said.
The factory produces analogue TVs in 14 and 21-inch sizes with a distribution price of 2,250 Br and 3,500 Br, respectively. The smart TVs are manufactured in different sizes varying from 19 to 32 inches. The distribution price also ranges, from 2,750 Br to 6,900 Br.
“Even though the analogue TVs are outdated, we still have customers in regions who are interested in them,” Ahmed Mohamud, senior assembler of the product in the factory, said. The daily production of analogue TVs in 14 and 21-inch sizes is 400, while the amount of production of smart TVs in 19, 22, 24, 32, 39 and 43-inch sizes is 500, according to Ahmed.
Having started with producing analogue TVs and having produced more than 993 LED TVs in 2014, the plant’s production capacity has now reached 46,565 a year.
“This indicates that people are very much interested in smart TV technology,” said Sirak Muluneh, finance manager of the company.
The LED features are Internet compatible, have built-in Wi-Fi, two inputs for flash, two inputs for High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) cables and other inputs to connect the TVs with PC and audio/video signals.
Currently, LED TVs are locally assembled and distributed by different manufacturers. There are more than 15 manufacturers in Addis Abeba which produce LED TVs and other related home appliances.
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