Thursday, July 25, 2024
BusinessMobile retailers stuck in supply quagmire

Mobile retailers stuck in supply quagmire

Retailers of mobile phones find themselves between a rock and a hard place after facing a critical shortage of supply due to the recent crackdown against informal traders via Bole International Airport.

The mobile market has been under stress since the beginning of last month due to the sharp decline in imports of cellphones, a situation caused by a ban placed by the Ethiopian Custom Commission against luggage imports by informal traders from countries like Dubai.  

The measure comes as mobile assemblers face extinction due to shortage of input and a saturated market by imported items.

A business which is highly dependent on luggage imports via Bole international airport, the mobile market in the capital city has already witnessed a price disruption, with the cost of smartphones seeing an average price hike of 6,000 birr in less than two weeks.

The price of mobile accessories, including wireless headphones, also saw a significant surge by as much as 60 percent.

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“I almost have no supply in inventory after I stopped bringing items from abroad via the airport,” said Henock Abera, owner of Fikir Mobile store, located around the Bole neighborhood.

Dubai is the major origin of Ethiopia’s imports of cellphone and other accessories, according to players in the mobile market.

“The price before the ban was without custom duty, since the item was being imported using a luggage. Coupled with less number of legally registered importers involved in the market, the ban caused a market disturbance, with prices yet to see a significant upsurge, even higher than what we have seen since the last month,” said Henok.

According to an assessment done by The Reporter, Samsung A10s, which is the most sought after cellphone in the market, now costs 10,000 birr, a jump from 7,000 birr before the ban. Samsung M series phones also saw a similar increase.

Mainly imported from the US, the price of recent IPhone models showed an increase by as much as 7,000 birr. IPhone 13 Pro Max alone saw an increase from 93,000 birr to over 100,000 birr.

“It is likely to see more increase as there is a dearth in supply,” said Tewodros Mulat, owner of a retail shop.

Though officials expect such a gap would be filled by legally registered businesses, the market players do not buy into this idea.

“We cannot trust the importers because they bring high-copy items and trick the public as their major goal is to maximize profit, instead of giving what the customers want,” Henok said.

The mobile market is not the only business hit hard by the ban placed on luggage trading. The clothing market also saw a significant jump in prices and supply shortages right after the measure.

Contributed by Misganaw Fentaw

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