Claim: President Muhammadu Buhari takes delivery of the first ever Nigeria-made cell phone called ITF Mobile.
No, there is no phone made in Nigeria yet. ITF is not a first made or assembled phone in Nigeria.
On Wednesday, June 10, 2021, the internet went agog with photos and news reports of president, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.)receiving the first made in Nigeria phone known as ITF mobile.
Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, while presenting the phones to the president just before the Federal Executive Meeting tagged it as the first ever to come out of the country.
Adebayo explained that the phone was one of the 12 produced, using locally sourced components, by the Electrical/Electronics Technology Department of the Industrial Training Fund’s Model Skills Training Centre.
He was quoted to have said, “Twelve indigenous mobile cell phones produced by the Model Skills Training Centre of the Industrial Training Fund; an agency under the Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment, were launched.
“It gives me great pleasure Mr President, to present you with one of the phones.” The reports went viral on various social media platforms as people kept sharing and reposting.
Using a keyword search on Google and other search engines, it was discovered that before Wednesday, a number of Nigerians have come up with certain mobile phones tagged, ‘Made-in-Nigeria phones.’
One of them was a report in 2017 by Technologytimes.ng that listed some made in Nigeria phones available in the market amongst which are; Solo Aspire 3,Ankara K2 and Plirisblazex-64.
Solo Aspire 3
Aspire 3 smartphone was manufactured by a Nigerian tech company, Solo, which was formed in 2012 by a group of telecoms professionals led by Tayo Ogundipe, a Nigerian-born ex-senior global executive with HTC and Sony Ericsson, the report stated.
The Ankara K2 smartphone was launched by a Nigerian device maker, Imose Mobile around early 2015. The smartphone comes in two colour variants of black and white and supports dual mini SIM.
PLIRISBLAZEX – 64
Plirisblazex-64 smartphone was manufactured and released into the tech market in 2015 by Pliris Mobile Limited, a Nigerian tech company, founded by Oluwafemi Alade.
Also, on April 25 April 2017, The Guardian published a report stating the emergence of the first ever made-in-Nigeria phone by AfriOne.
The report partly read, “ More than 15 years after Nigeria joined the global system for mobile communications, the first made-in-Nigeria phone has finally debut, thus throwing the country into the growing league of communication gadgets manufacturers.
AfriOne mobile phone
“The phone, which components are sourced and assembled locally, serves as a technological breakthrough and precedent for the country.
“The handset, which is coming from the stable of AfriOne Limited, a technology-driven enterprise, is poised to standardise the use of technology in Nigeria, offering affordable innovation and removing barriers to large scale adoption of advanced technology.”
Also, in the report, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer, AfriOne, Sahir Berry, at the inauguration of the plant, was quoted to have said that the manufacturing plant in Lagos, serves as a pioneer in the manufacturing and assembling of high-end communication technology in the African space.
“AfriOne champions corporate socio-economic development, while wholly supporting the ‘Made-in-Nigeria’ mantra. The company models products that utilise cutting-edge technology reflect a modern, sleek design and integrate the latest and arguably necessary financial technology such as mobile health, mobile education and mobile banking. This is all with the goal of facilitating connectivity among Nigerians and the rest of the world,” Berry said.
No phone manufactured in Nigeria, says expert
However, the immediate past president of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria and the National Coordinator for the Alliance for Affordable Internet, Olusola Teniola, told our correspondent in a phone interview, there was no record of any made-in-Nigeria phone, adding that what was available were phones that were assembled in Nigeria.
Speaking to Sunday PUNCH, he said the record must be set that there was no made-in-Nigeria phone.
Teniola said, “ The first thing is the phone that the government is calling made-in-Nigeria is actually assembled in Nigeria because there is no phone that is globally recognised to have been manufactured in Nigeria.
“The phone that was showcased by the minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, is just an example of other phones that have been assembled in Nigeria.”
The Information Technology expert stated that the components that make up the phone were not manufactured in Nigeria; but are imported. “There is no record of any phone fully manufactured in Nigeria yet,” he added.
Teniola further explained that , “The component that makes up the phone and the screen were packed by other technology companies outside Nigeria. Nigeria can only claim to have assembled the phone. There is no record of any indigenious phone that was built bottom-up in Nigeria.”
Teniola said that he was aware of some companies assembling phones in Nigeria just like AfriOne clarifying that the firms only assemble but don’t manufacture phones.
“What they do at AfriOne is the assembling of component parts like others, but they do not manufacture. Afrione is one of those who have been able to produce an assembled featured phone.”
Teniola said the innovation by ITF was a “welcome development” to assemble a locally made phone. This he said would, “make the choices widely more available to consumers in their locally assembled phone.”
The tech guru said in Nigeria for now, “we do not have the capacity to produce the components that make up a mobile phone.”
“ We don’t have that capacity until we are able to fabricate the chips and components that make up high-tech technology devices. Maybe in the future, we may be able to do more than assemble and manufacture our own phone in Nigeria, but for now we are not there yet,” he stated.
Another search by our correspondent revealed that some components of a mobile phone include a circuit board, microphone, display, speaker, sim card holder, buzzer, vibrator, monitor battery, antenna, etc. Amongst these, the circuit board acts as the brain of the device as it helps in the overall functioning of the phone by converting digital signals to analog and vice versa.
Difference between manufacturing and assembling a phone
There is a difference between assembling and manufacturing. It’s a common misconception amongst people which makes it easy for many to misconstrue both terminologies.
An engineering website, Axenics.com ,explained the difference between the two terminologies stating that assembly encompasses the steps of constructing a finished product from components or partially-compiled units. Assembly results in assemblies and/or sub-assemblies that are ready for sale and or implementation by a customer. Manufacturing on the other hand, encompasses the process of production from raw or semi-raw materials through to a finished product ready for sale.
From all facts and evidence, ITF mobile is neither the first made-in-Nigeria nor a first assembled-in-Nigeria phone.
The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2021 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with The PUNCH to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.