This mobile OEM, from seemingly out of nowhere, has declared that it is about to list on not one, or two, but three stock exchanges. In Nigeria, London, and Rwanda, according to a report by Proshare.
Tingo who? You can’t be blamed if the musical name doesn’t ring a bell, I’ve never heard of it before today either. But Tingo Mobile is apparently a real company that makes phones, and owns mobile messaging and payment products. Information available on the company’s website shows that it has been around since 2001.
August, 2001: Incorporated as Fair Deal Concepts Ltd.
August, 2013: Became Tingo Mobile
August 2013: Incorporated in South Africa, Kenya and Ghana
January 2014: Delivered a private data network for over 8 Million Nigerian Farmers.
March, 2014: Design and Distribution of 8 million phones for Nigerian Farmers.
March, 2014: Designed and launched Nigeria’s first Mobile Messaging Application
Hold up. That part about designing and distributing phones to Nigerian farmers DOES ring a bell. In early 2013, there was a rather heated and public furore over the then Nigerian minister of agriculture’s decision to approve a contract for the supply of mobile phones to ten million farmers. Tingo Mobile, by its own admission, supplied 8 million phones to Nigerian farmers in March 2014. While it is not impossible that both events are unrelated, the timelines line up enough to suggest that Tingo Mobile was contractor who eventually got the agriculture ministry’s job.
In all, Tingo Mobile claims to have sold a total of 9 million Android-based smartphones to to Nigerian farmers, women cooperatives and mobile money agents across east Africa in the past three years. There was a noisy 2014 launch and even a $120,000 rapper endorsement to herald the introduction of the brand’s mobile devices to the Nigerian market. But clearly, Tingo has been selling more to the government than to the public.
It would seem that the point of the declared tri-market IPO is to get past government contracts as a business model by bringing new and existing products to the open market. Speaking to Proshare, Tingo Mobile’s founder and CEO, Mr. Dozy Mmobuosi said:
“We are entering new markets with new products and services…we will be introducing smart and contactless metering devices for power distribution companies across Africa, smart TVs and Nano Batteries within the next 24 months…making most of our products available to the general public for the first time.”
Asides the declaration of intent, not much else is known about the proposed IPO.