Mobile handset assembling is set to expand further in the country as a fifth company is set to officially announce its enrolment today with its own “5 Star Mobile” brand.
Al Amin Brothers, a local company which has been importing handsets for over two decades, set up its plant in Gazipur near National University investing about Tk 30 crore.
Telecom and ICT Minister Mustafa Jabbar will inaugurate the plant, said the company's managing director, Md Oliullah.
He said they would initially assemble low-cost feature phones and gradually move towards smartphones.
“We have been running this business since 1996, mostly importing from China, and now it is time to move for assembling,” Oliullah added.
Though the plant has the capacity to assemble about four lakh handsets a month using five production lines, its initial monthly production target was about 1.5 lakh pieces.
Walton was the first company to take up assembling. They have been producing different types of handsets for the past one year. Meanwhile market leader Symphony started assembling last month aiming to cater to the local market.
Both said they were now assembling a few lakh pieces in total every month and aimed to take the figure to about five lakh.
Symphony opened its factory in Ashulia on the outskirts of Dhaka and is planning to set up a second one in Bangabandhu Hi-Tech City in Gazipur's Kaliakoir within the next two years.
Samsung, one of the top global players, also started assembling and marketing their products from a few months back. The Korean brand is currently assembling a couple of lakh smartphones of a few models from its Narsingdi plant every month. Chinese mobile phone manufacturer Transsion Holdings also started running its handset assembly plant in Gazipur last month.
They were yet to start supplying to the market for they were waiting for a VAT rebate issue to be resolved, said Rezwanul Haque, its chief executive officer.
Transsion's plant has the capacity to assemble five lakh handsets every month and they were now making both feature phones and smartphones.
The five companies took licences from Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission right after the government offered huge tax benefits for mobile assembling in the 2017-18 budget. A couple of interested companies have applied to the telecom regulator for licences and are preparing to set up plants.
Industry insiders say the five plants would jointly assemble 10 to 12 lakh mobile sets every month and production volume would increase by a large extent when all processes were complete. The entrepreneurs said they were now importing all the raw materials from China and would move in to manufacture some of the component here within the next one year. Last year about 3.4 crore mobile handsets were imported through legal channels, of which 82 lakh were smartphones, according to Bangladesh Mobile Phone Importers Association.
In the first half of 2018, the figures stood at 1.55 crore units and 37.89 lakh units respectively.
Industry sources say the country spends over Tk 10,000 crore every year for importing these devices. With assembling starting in full swing, the figures were expected to come down, saving a huge amount of foreign currency.