Tanzanian traders are staring at stockouts and dead stock in coming years, following the European Union (EU)’s move to standardise all smartphone chargers to USB-C cables.
The EU has set 2024 as the deadline for phasing out lightning cables. The regulations will see the USB-C cables, popularly known as type C, become the universal charger for mobile phones, tablets, keyboards, computer mice, smart watches, electronic toys, and low-powered laptops.
A huge number of phones and other gadgets manufactured and exported from the EU are Android devices that widely use lightning cables, meaning that in two years, sellers and consumers in Africa must comply.
Charger sellers are set to bear the biggest brunt because a majority of the chargers are manufactured in Europe, and they tend to hold onto stocks for many years.
The shutdown of the manufacturing plants for the lightning cables is likely to translate to stock runouts in the domestic market.
Phone maker Apple has raised concerns over EU’s push for a common charger type, saying it might hurt innovation.
As the supremacy battle ensues between the type C and the lighting cable, competition from alternative technologies such as micro-USB has become more pronounced. Phone makers, however, say there is unlikely to be a disruption in terms of supply.
Electronics traders are also optimistic, adding that they are looking for measures that will cushion them from the losses caused by obsolete technology.
Charles Kimari, the director of internet and mobile experience at Samsung in Nairobi says he hopes the market dynamics will cancel themselves out in a cyclic fashion, with local retailers getting a window for business expansion.
“The elimination of the lightning chargers will not be a one-off affair. It will be a phased, gradual process. This will give time to local dealers to get innovative and getting alternative sources of supply. I don’t foresee any disruption of the supply chain links,” says Mr Kimari.