Panasonic begins studying ways to sell more goods in under-tapped African market
By Atul Ranjan
NEW DELHI, NNA – Panasonic Corp.’s Indian subsidiary directed to drive the firm’s growth in Africa has begun studying ways to make appliances that would sell best in the seldom-tapped market, a top company official said.
“Starting from this year, we have formed a small team to understand product requirements for the African market,” Manish Sharma, president and CEO of Panasonic India and South Asia, told NNA in an interview in New Delhi last Thursday.
A senior executive of the subsidiary, Panasonic India Pvt. Ltd., will lead the study and work with the parent company’s Middle East-based teams. The Japanese electronics giant will also use its India Innovation Center R&D unit, which it set up in 2017, to help produce Africa-specific products. Panasonic India has allocated 2.5 billion rupees ($35 million) for research and development over five years ending in 2022.
“We will customize products to suit the African market’s requirements,” Sharma said.
Consumer spending in Africa has grown at a compound annual rate of 3.9 percent since 2010 and it’s on track to reach $2.1 trillion by 2025, the Brookings Institution policy research group said in a 2018 report. The report calls Africa one of the fastest-growing consumer markets in the world because of new wealth, an expanding urban population and increased internet use.
Panasonic India will use the study results to manufacture Africa-specific products at an 8-year-old refrigerator plant in the northern Indian state of Haryana, Sharma said, adding that the company seeks to leverage India’s relative geographical proximity to Africa.
“Our intention is to make our (India) facility a manufacturing hub for India, the Middle East and Africa,” he said.
Production in India already covers kitchen appliances, televisions, air-conditioners and washing machines.
NNA reported last year that Japanese consumer electronics maker Daikin Industries Ltd., the world’s largest air conditioner vendor, is setting up a regional office in the Kenyan capital Nairobi to expand its footprint in the African market.
Daikin also plans to make India a manufacturing hub for domestic and international markets including Africa.