Handset imports rose 5pc last year
Bangladesh imported $506 million of mobile handsets last year, registering 5 percent growth year-on-year, data from importers shows.
The value of legally imported handsets is expected to reach $748 million by 2020, according to an estimate by Bangladesh Mobile Phone Importers' Association or BMPIA. The import value of handsets is increasing as a large number of people are switching from basic devices to advanced feature phones and smartphones, as data consumption is rising fast, said Rezwanul Hoque, general secretary of BMPIA.
“The market will surpass our expectations if we can stop illegal imports, which currently account for about 20 percent of the total sales,” Hoque said.
In 2015, Bangladesh imported 27.1 million handsets, at an average price of $18.67, BMPIA data shows. The association expects to import 29.27 million handsets this year.
The average price of a smartphone in the year was about $56.13, with imports of 5.63 million devices for a $316 million bill in 2015.
A larger bill, to the tune of $379 million, is expected for smartphone imports this year.
Currently, smart devices account for about 21 percent of total mobile imports, but the number will likely reach 47 percent by 2020, according to the association.
The lowest price of a basic phone is Tk 700 and is set to decline to Tk 550 in a couple of years, BMPIA expects.
The local market for handsets will grow fast for the next few years, even though the markets in the developed countries have already matured, business insiders said.
In 2015, growth in global handset sales was just 4 percent, compared to about 10 percent in Bangladesh, whereas it was 11 percent in the year earlier, Hoque said in a presentation during a workshop on Friday, for the members of Telecom Reporters' Network Bangladesh.
Bangladesh's demographic profile is conducive to market growth as most of the population is young, he said. It indicates a large chunk of the population will enter the mobile market in about five years, lending a boost to the sector, Hoque said. The mobile market also reflects Bangladesh's recent economic development, said Ruhul Alam Al Mahbub, president of BMPIA.
“Users are hungry for data, which is also increasing revenues of the mobile phone operators.”
Currently, there are 12 million smartphones being used in Bangladesh, according to BMPIA.
In Bangladesh, there are 91 registered brands, with about 50 in operation in a market, in which local brands are dominant, the importers' association says.
About 84 percent of imported handsets are those of local brands, and 16 percent are of international ones, data shows. However, international brands hold about 28 percent share of Bangladesh's smartphone market.
“Although local brands are still dominating the sector, global mobile business trends show international brands will increase dominance in future,” said Hoque, who is also a director of Symphony, the local top-selling handset brand.