2021-09-22: [Original Article]. [Open in a new tab].
May 10-12 is the fifth China Brand Day ", Chinese enterprises" going global "and building brand attention was also drawn to. In this regard, Observer Network interviewed Lu Yoliang, vice president of Sada Times Group, who is deeply cultivated in Africa, to talk about the stories of Chinese companies in Africa.
"Africa is caught in China's debt trap" has become a common tactic for the West to provoke China-Africa relations. But for Chinese enterprises deeply cultivated in Africa, these rumors have long been in the face of reality: Chinese brands continue to gain local recognition, local staff rate of more than 90%. The Chinese are here, the opportunity is coming, and the development is coming.
Observer Network: We have learned that the media group Siderh has been expanding the African market since 2002. Up to now, the business has spread to 37 African countries, with operation teams stationed in more than 20 countries, ranking 16th among the top 100 influential brands in Africa. It should be said that after more than ten years of deep cultivation, the Sidar era has become a bright business card for China in Africa. I think the Sada era also has a more say in the topic of Chinese enterprises "going out" and building brands, can you please start talking about it?
In fact, "Chinese companies go global" and "how to do a good brand" are two things. Chinese companies have gone out for a long time. From the perspective of the external environment, for China and Africa, the current Chinese enterprises should have gone through three stages. The first stage is the responsibility and commitment between major powers, such as some aid construction, investment, electricity and urban infrastructure in Africa in the 1950s and 1960s. This is to solve the problem of connecting the city to the city.
The second stage is opportunity-oriented, that is, many Chinese businessmen participate in economic and trade activities between China and Africa, which not only gave birth to some markets and business districts such as Yiwu, Huaqiangbei and Canton Fair, it also gave birth to companies such as Huawei and Voice. On the one hand, they do mobile network deployment and coverage, on the other hand, they enrich the choice of smart phones and make low prices, so they also solve the problem of connection between people through communication construction.
If the third stage is still summarized by "connection", I think it is a connection under the premise of cultural and commercial integration. What the Sidar Times is currently doing is this connection between culture, commerce, and media. Therefore, the ties between China and Africa will become more and more deep, diverse and rich.
From the perspective of "brand", we are now increasingly emphasizing the integration of investment, construction and operation in Africa. In fact, this marks the current market characteristics of Africa. Investment reflects strength (investment and financing); Construction reflects capacity because of the need for technology (Engineering delivery capacity); Operation reflects concentration, because the operation phase needs to take root in the local market, doing a good job of local service and forming a local brand requires strategic confidence and strategic patience.
In the past, China's investment in non-investment, generally through financial support or specific project construction support, in this way, first of all, the efficiency of the use of funds may not be high, and secondly, some venues, after infrastructure projects such as transportation, it was found that local operating capacity was relatively weak.
The characteristics of the Chinese people often do more and speak less; They don't want to say it, and they are not good at saying it. Now we can see that the country's awareness in this area has been continuously strengthened, and at the same time "do local things well and tell the Chinese story well" while increasing its ability and investment ".
Now the country pays attention to the integration of investment, construction and camp, not only to give funds and projects, but also to empower the local area. In fact, the integration mode of investment, construction and operation has many positive effects on China itself. For example, the industrial chain has become longer. After the industrial chain becomes longer, the participation of Chinese enterprises in all aspects will be greatly improved. In the investment link, financial institutions such as the Bank of China (Export-Import Bank of China) and the Development Bank (China Development Bank) will be involved in the investment link; there are also four and more companies joining in the operation link. Of course, Sada Times itself is a company with full-link capabilities for investment, construction, delivery, and Operation. In the past 20 years in Africa, we have accumulated experience, capabilities, brands and tens of millions of users.
Observer Network: In terms of investment, construction, and Operation integration, how does Sida do in Africa?
Our four times are actually quite good.
Technically, we have built four basic network service platforms: Program relay, live satellite, terrestrial TV and Internet video; it undertook the "Ten Thousands of Villages" project announced by President Xi at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in 2015, and implemented the satellite digital TV project for 10112 villages in 23 African countries; at a time when the African continent is facing the wave of digitization and informatization, it advocates the digital transformation of radio and television business model, and signed project contracts or cooperation intentions with more than 20 African governments.
In the operation of content and users, Sida Times integrates the program content of hundreds of channels and landed in Chinese mainstream media. Including internationally renowned channels such as Discovery Channel, FOX, Al Jazeera; Uganda National Television, local African channels such as Kenya National Television (TV stations in almost all African countries and private TV stations with top ratings);CGTN, CCTV-4, CGTN-F, CGTN-D, 23 mainstream Chinese media channels such as CNC; 43 Sida self-run channels such as Kung Fu Channel and Chinese Film and Television Drama Foreign Language Channel. The program covers almost all types of news, synthesis, film and television, sports, entertainment, children, music, etc. The languages involve 11 languages including Swahili and Hausa in English, French, Portuguese and African. Sida Times has also been selected as one of the top ten national cultural and technological integration demonstration bases jointly recognized by the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Central Propaganda Department, the Central Internet Information Office, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and the General Administration of Radio and Television.
At the same time, compared to competitive brands, Siderge is the only company to develop the B2B and B2C markets at the same time, and Sada Times was a technology company on the day of its establishment in 1988, providing technical solutions and organizing construction for several domestic and foreign cable television stations has helped Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and other countries to complete digital transformation, therefore, Sada Times is a media company with a technical background.
In the B2C field, the Siderh era opened up the African market with terrestrial TV technology, which quickly accumulated tens of millions of users due to low user access costs, and also lowered the average price of the African digital TV industry, the access fee was reduced from $200 to $47.
In addition, Sada Times is the only digital TV operator covering the three major African language regions (English, French, and Portuguese) at the same time, providing a one-stop broadcast program for domestic partners.
The Sidar era is improving the marketing system from African capitals to cities and villages to help more Chinese goods reach all corners of African society, we drove LED projection equipment to many rural areas through the "film and television Caravan", similar to our past open-air movies, bringing Chinese excellent film and television drama content and the fight against the Covid epidemic and other sanitary content to the African countryside, the average number of spectators per game is 500-1000.
Finally, the star after years of intensive cultivation, the construction and operation, has accumulated deep user base, as of now, we have developed 13 million have spending power of quality of home users, 27 million new generation mobile video consumer user, as well as more than 1000 million users of social media, multi-platform, multi-channel and multi-level user our strong user base, it also provides space for new business development (payment, e-commerce, logistics and distribution, etc.) in the Sida era.
Observer Network: I just mentioned that the domestic industrial chain has become longer. When you do some local projects, such as satellite dish pots and some parts, they are all purchased and shipped from China? If you want to cultivate an industrial chain in the local area, it is actually not easy. Start with electricity and railways, and then simple factories can be built gradually, and then there is something else.
On. In fact, the development of the industrial chain can be reflected from the current comparison between China and the United States, or the comparison between China and other countries. Why is China's industrial chain the most complete? In fact, it is determined by many foundations, including the industrial base. China's huge population generates basic market demand. China's economic development has enabled the Chinese people to increase their spending power and give birth to new demand, it also promotes industrial upgrading, such a cycle.
In fact, many of our foreign trade-oriented industrial chains are only the natural result of our production development and are driven by domestic consumption. Including the factors of China's education development and the improvement of population quality, in the process of China's manufacturing development and upgrading, to ensure the supply of engineers. Therefore, the industrial transfer of our country to Africa is echelon.
Observer Network: Speaking of Echelon transfer, I think of China's "King of women's shoes". They have built a park in Ethiopia. We are indeed based on the industrial base of Africa and put simple manufacturing, the handicraft industry is cultivated first.
Yes, but this is different from transferring excess capacity. It still starts from market demand. What does Africa need most at this stage? The African market there are several natural characteristics, first of all, its space is very big, is a large continent of the concept, there are 30 million square kilometers, 1.2 billion per cent of the population, and with an annual population growth rate is 2.6%. Most of the world's population growth is now contributed by them.
Secondly, the growth of the market is strong, not only the spatial dimension is very large, but the time dimension is also very long, which is worth long-term investment. So we need to have strategic patience and strategic confidence. In short, in Africa, as long as we follow the right path, all the dividends since China's reform and opening up can be gone, such as demographic dividend, science and technology dividend, policy dividend and so on.
What do you mean it's a bonus? There is a view in Economics: The dividend is that demand is temporarily unmet. Chinese companies or Chinese brands want to go out and face such a big market, such a big dividend, and such a big opportunity?
First of all, we must look forward-looking to the market and identify its own market role. For example, look at the demand first. Is there a natural combination of corporate products and the market? The Ethiopian shoe factory mentioned just now is very large, first because of the rich supply of workers there, and second, because the market demand is already very large. Through products continue to meet market demand, establish their own brand.
Secondly, a very important premise is to be willing to make the brand good. Some people don't understand this, are some people not willing to do a good brand? Yes, a lot of us actually don't have brand awareness on the outside. Because at present, there are indeed many opportunities in the African market, especially for those who have worked hard in the Chinese market, there are many ways to meet the needs of the African market, there are many short and fast ways to make local money, but in the long run it will damage the brand of the enterprise.
From the perspective of enterprises, the willingness to be a brand is to pursue sustainability and self-growth. The so-called brand is actually the accumulation of trust by Chinese enterprises in a market, it is the cornerstone of sustainable, effective and stable development. Behind the brand is trust, trust is the fulfillment of promises, what to fulfill? It's products and services, in other words, the user's experience-I feel the value after buying it. If the growth of the enterprise itself is not high, it does not pursue sustainability, or even overdraft some local trust, then many things will be impossible to talk about.
Third, there must be a collective sense of the brand. It is necessary to realize that the overseas brands of Chinese enterprises not only represent themselves, but also represent China's national image and China's national influence overseas as a collective.
Let me give you an example. In Africa, people's understanding of the quality of Chinese mobile phones; The quality of Chinese shoes, socks, clothes and hats; The quality of Chinese hardware products and even infrastructure projects, in fact, it is interlinked. The African people's perception of brands is relatively strong, and China once had such a historical stage. There are also many people who used to trust Japanese goods, German goods, american goods, I believe that as long as it is an American product, it represents high quality. This phenomenon has slowly changed in China, but in Africa, change may be lagging.
Therefore, I think our enterprises should have a sense of collective brand and realize that their own brand is also related to the national image. If this collective image is done well, it will be good for the enterprise itself. On the contrary, it can also bring great disadvantages. The Brand Collective image represents the trust in the whole made in China.
The local language dubbing competition operated by Sida in Africa, the winner can work at the Sida Times Beijing headquarters, which is very attractive to locals.
Observer Network: I learned that the brand of the Sida era has done a very good job in the localization of African branches. The local staff rate of more than 95% is how to do it?
I think there are two reasons. First, our overseas data TV service is to C business, which is for the African public. Second, our business has more service attributes, and we ultimately hope to provide digital TV services to the African public. This requires a relatively high degree of localization.
The first is localized content, such as language, and the second is localized channels. We have built the entire marketing system and logistics system throughout Africa, which needs to be done very deeply.
After the Chinese employees go, they will actually decentralise their power to the local employees. Because we believe that, as a service-oriented and Operational Enterprise in Africa, first of all, African faces can best represent Africa, and locals can best represent local demands, so we should understand the local culture, local people must be fully trusted. In my opinion, China mainly plays a role in delimiting the general direction. The format of the African market is that locals will definitely do better than us. This process is actually a process of mutual trust building, which takes time and is also a process of brand growth.
In fact, the percentage of local employees is a figure, which is a result, and trust building is a mutual process. We believe that locals can help us do a good job in our business. If we don't trust them, we will do less work for local people. If we can't get exercise and experience, we can't grow up and trust can't be built, the more mistrust, the less it can be done. As a result, the more the Chinese do, the more the local, the less the business pressure makes managers feel that Chinese employees must be used for efficiency, this becomes a vicious circle.
Brand growth needs to invest time, which returns to the previous topic. Operation reflects determination, rooting in the local market, doing a good job in local services, and paying attention to strategic confidence and strategic patience. We often say that we are a "grow out of the ground" company, we have a "Farming" thinking, is in a market through a long period of development and intensive cultivation, long-term returns through long-cycle inputs, which we believe are in line with China's national strategy. China's "Belt and Road" initiative proposed has been 6 years, which is already for a long time, but its African friendship dates back to "the Tanzania-Zambia Railway" at that time, china's foreign minister's first visit every year is Africa.
This is different from the "Hunting" thinking of some countries and enterprises. If you see it, you can't retreat. It is precisely the establishment of brand and trust. The Sidar era continues to be optimistic about Africa, deeply ploughing Africa, and making big companies stronger brands. We are also happy to go out to sea with Chinese companies, land in Africa, and provide experience and ability to learn and cooperate.