Magna Carter, Samsung and the Politics of Disregarding Nigeria.
When Samsung announced it was collaborating with Jay Z to publicize his much anticipated 4th of July Magna Carter album on its android platform by giving away 1million free downloads people were ecstatic; Not just because we love free stuff , but it was just not any free stuff, it’s a Jay z album. One of the greatest rappers of all time. The countdown was on…
Switch continents to Africa, Lagos, Nigeria to be precise; The most populous country in Africa and one of Samsung’s biggest markets. Since the return of democracy in 1999 the economic airways of Nigeria have become open, and has bustled with foreign investments. Mobile phone companies and operators capitalized on this new flow of money and opportunity from a fertile populace who embraced mobile phone technology like it was the best thing since sliced bread.
Over the past decade, Nigeria has become a big market for top selling mobile phones, it’s a cultural thing, the latest smart phones no matter how much are sought and bought by Nigerians, Most have two or three phones. It’s a way of life.
So when Nigerians who like most of the world have become very smart phone savvy heard about the Samsung free download giveaway, they were eager to get in on the act. It’s Samsung they thought, one of the best selling cell phones in the country there is no reason we should not partake in this give away, after all we buy plenty of their phones. Unbeknownst to them, they were in for a rude awakening. The Magna Carter free downloads were not available in Lagos, not just Lagos but not to any part of Nigeria.
Samsung like most big multinational companies before it, had disregarded the importance of the Nigerian market to it’s African market share and dare I say world . This is something we routinely allow these big multinational companies to get away with because of our corrupt system, inattentive government and non existent consumer advocacy groups. It’s absolutely preposterous that they would exclude Nigeria from accessing the free downloads. Even more insulting is the fact that South Africa was not excluded, so it’s not like all African countries were excluded. South Africa was able to partake but not Nigeria.
A few notes about why this is so insulting, market share and economic power always determine how you treat your customers, it’s the same reason the US can’t confront Saudi Arabia on it’s abysmal human rights record or lack of democracy ; they need Saudi oil, plain and simple and they can’t risk alienating them. Nigeria buys more Samsung phones, more than another brand, but still Samsung excludes the Nigerian market from the free downloads. Why you may ask? Why stick it to one of your biggest markets in your quest for world cellphone dominance??? because they know Nigerians are gullible and have no sense of pride. They know a few kickbacks to some corrupt government officials gives them the license to do whatever they desire. The same way huge multinational oil companies over the years have made billions from the Niger delta while simultaneously decimating the environment and depriving millions of the use of their land, with very little in settlements and actual clean ups of oil spills. The answer is give kickbacks to some corrupt government officials and it’s okay to turn a blind eye.
I think this move by Samsung to exclude the Nigerian market from accessing free Magna carta downloads is very unfortunate. It speaks volumes to how much respect and appreciation they have for the Nigerian market and most especially the Nigerian people. They have not issued any statement explaining the reason for the exclusion, but I doubt will will get any. Why should they? “there is no one to hold their feet to the fire” and seek answers. It’s back to business as usual, but Nigerians should always remember they can remind Samsung of what a dumb idea this is with their wallets and buying power.
Samsung and these companies are not totally at fault here and I do not lay the blame solely at their feet. The corrupt officials and inept government safeguards are equally as guilty, but what I expect from Samsung is to conduct their business with the highest sense of corporate responsibility no matter what part of the world they find themselves, and not reserve their best behavior and corporate ethics for developed countries where scrutiny and watchdogs are more vigilant.