Online mobile phone trade rises as MTN drives growth of SMEs

BY: Isaac Yeboah

Kwabena Opoku-Boakye,  Marketing Manager of Tonaton.com.As the country’s mobile revolution continues at full speed, trading online in mobile phones has risen sharply to meet the high levels of demand.

Statistics from the National Communications Authority (NCA) put the current level of mobile penetration at about 109 per cent. Internet penetration has also risen from 14 per cent in 2011 to 17.11 per cent in 2013, a phenomenon mostly driven by mobile web.

Today, even with the MTN Mobile Money, which has more than two million subscribers on its platform, users are able to pay their DSTV and ECG bills and school fees, purchase Starbow airline tickets, as well as pay for goods purchased at Melcom Plus, Max Mart and other online shops such as Ghanabuys and Sellphone Ghana. These services have been designed to create more flexibility, accessibility and convenience for customers.

With technology becoming widely accessible to the population, including those at the bottom of the economic pyramid, there has been increased focus on the invaluable role mobile technology plays in improving social, economic and environmental development in emerging markets. As the remaining unconnected population get access to mobile technology and the capabilities it provides, the lives of the population will fundamentally shift.

The simple increase in access to information at a faster pace, from new sources, will influence everything. Affordable mobile phones and the opportunities they usher in for the poor will be one of the most dramatic game-changing technologies the world has ever seen

According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), mobile telephony has brought new possibilities to the African continent. Across urban-rural and rich-poor divides, mobile phones connect individuals to individuals, information, markets and services.

Online trading in mobile phones in Ghana has, thus, grown strongly. Online classifieds website, Tonaton.com, has reported findings based on the listings on the site by end of August 2013, and the trend is remarkable.

As a result of this trend, certain individuals in the key cities have set up “online shops” to undertake brisk businesses. One of such people is Nana Osei who lives at Asokwa, Kumasi. According to him, he visits the mobile phone pages of Tonaton.com daily to see the new deals people have posted on the site. “I call and bargain with them and if the price is good, I meet up with them and buy the phones to resell at my shop. These are very good phones and often posted by guys who came to Ghana on holidays and are returning to their countries of abode,” he says. “I make very good margins on the phones that are purchased on Tonaton.com for resale,” he added.

Ghapson, a mobile phones dealer at Adabraka, sells more than half of his phones and accessories online. “I upload almost all my mobile phones and accessories on Tonaton and I receive 10 to 15 calls daily from people wanting to buy one phone or the other,” he says. “I see the Internet as an additional platform for my business and it saves me from all the hustle in trying to find buyers,” he added.

Most of the people who use online as a medium in buying phones talk about its ease and convenience. Akosua is a student in one of the tertiary institutions in Cape Coast and tells about her experience. “I like changing my phones and this has made it easier for me to sell and buy a new phone as and when I want it. I bought this IPhone 5 just last week after selling my Blackberry Bold,” she said with a broad smile.

Checks on the trendy online trading platform, Tonaton.com, shows that the average price for mobile phones listed on Tonaton.com is pegged at GHc450. The key brands listed are Apple, Blackberry, HTC, LG, Nokia, Samsung and ZTE.

“The number of daily uploads of ads for mobile phones have more than doubled since we launched in April this year. The mobile phone sub-category has been one of the fastest since we entered the online classifieds market in Ghana,” remarks Kwabena Opoku-Boakye, Marketing Manager of Tonaton.com. “This number shows that Tonaton.com is not only a market place for people that occasionally want to do great deals, but it also offers an easy entry for small scale businesses,” he concludes.

By Suleiman Mustapha/Daily Graphic/Ghana