Chinese smartphone manufacturer Oppo is looking at creating more jobs in South Africa, by expanding its team of employees, as its local business continues to grow rapidly.
The company opened its local office at the height of the COVID-19-induced lockdowns, in September 2020, with a team of five employees – during a time when most businesses encountered unsurmountable challenges catalysed by supply chain shortages.
Exactly 24 months since inception, the smartphone maker says it has gained ground in a highly-competitive smartphone market, having won over 10% of the local postpaid smartphone market.
In an interview with ITWeb, Liam Faurie, head of go-to-market and operations for Oppo South Africa, said as it accelerates its growth strategy, it is looking at growing its team of 500 employees, add new partnerships, and continue developing products and services that set it apart from rivals.
The BBK Electronics-owned organisation has almost 600 000 South African users, with over 500 million customers across 60 countries globally.
As it sets its sights on reaching one million South African users before the end of June 2023, Faurie points out that having ample employees is essential for accommodating the scaling of the business.
“When we first opened our South African office, we set out to have a great team of employees because we understand that people buy from a certain calibre of people,” explains Faurie.
“Growth is a natural progress for us and as demand increases, we have to have more people to satisfy that demand, and it’s important to have the right skills-set to achieve that growth. So we intend to continue investing in people through upskilling our teams and job creation. Creating more jobs is extremely important in a country with high levels of unemployment.”
Oppo’s first “office” was based in a Johannesburg apartment, belonging to one of the company’s local founding members, and became a regular meeting place several weeks before the Sandton headquarters were established.
Since then, it has set up main offices in Johannesburg, Cape Town and KwaZulu-Natal, as well as regional hubs, where its local employees are based.
Last week, Oppo announced the expansion of its Reno Academy photography school to SA. It will offer locals photography masterclasses and facilitate access to photography opportunities.
In partnership with the Cape Town School of Photography, it is offering bursaries to prospective students.
Oppo’s plans to create employment in SA will give the local economy a boost, as its job market continues to be constrained.
August figures from Statistics SA’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey paint a grim picture of unemployment in the country – showing the number of unemployed persons increased by 132 000 to eight million in the second quarter of 2022 compared to the previous quarter.
Building a solid brand
While Faurie is not able to disclose the number of new staff members Oppo SA is looking to add, he points out it is strengthening its 5G strategy, with the rollout of 5G-enabled phones, such as the Reno8 and Reno7.
He emphasises the importance of offering employee upskilling and training programmes focused on new technologies or improved systems, to help them advance in their current positions.
“We are investing in up-skilling our sales team and technical teams because we know they are the core of our business, and without them we cannot do anything. For instance, we have a 5G specialist who has a degree in 5G technology and we are further expanding his skills-set as he embarks on getting his MBA.
“It takes time to build a brand in SA, and in order to do that, we have to continually invest in upskilling programmes.”
Competition in the local smartphone market has become intense over the past few years, as more smartphone manufacturers enter the market. These include Taiwanese consumer electronics and smartphone manufacturer HTC, Oppo’s sister brand Vivo, Chinese smartphone provider Tecno and Xiaomi, among others.
Today, 20 million to 22 million people in SA use a smartphone, which accounts for about one-third of the country's population, according to research firm Statista. Overall, the number of mobile connections is much higher, at over 90 million, including feature phones.
Despite the increased competition, Faurie believes the market is ripe for growth, and over the next year, Oppo will focus on diversifying its local product offering, and strengthening its relationship with telco and retail partners.
“There is a lot of competition out there but we are not playing a game which has no start and no end. We are only competing against ourselves, and with our end-users on how to bring them better products and services.
“That’s why we are creating our phones to last longer, and adding capabilities such as a four-year battery life, as well as developing our in-house chipset to ensure superior quality because people are holding onto their phones for longer,” he concludes.