A Chat with HMD Global’s Marketing Manager about Nokia Phones in the Kenyan Market


With many flagship smartphones being launched in Kenya recently, the Kendesk team sought to find out how HMD Global, which is in charge of designing, selling and promoting Nokia phones is planning to cut through the market and stay afloat in the long run. Below is an interview with HMD’s Marketing Manager, Mrs Celeste Muli.

Who is Celeste Muli-Gatheru?

I am the marketing manager for HMD Global, East Africa. I am also a brand ambassador for all the Nokia phones in Kenya.

What is HMD Global? What is it that you do?

HMD Global is initially a startup that was formed in Finland in 2016 with the goal of bringing the Nokia brand back into the mobile market. HMD global is owned by a private fund called Smart Connect LP. We are in charge of designing, selling and promoting the Nokia phones.

Many people always try to guess what the initials H.M.D stand for (chuckles) but it is just a name by itself.

We have managed to release a number of portfolios for the Nokia smartphones and feature phones in over 80 markets with activations in 170 countries globally, including Kenya. Some of the portfolios like the Nokia Android smartphones have won over 20 awards and sold out across markets. This has all been possible because of the partnerships with some of the biggest industry leaders including Nokia, Foxconn, ZEISS and Google to deliver on the Legacy of Nokia phones and provide our fans with some of the best phones of the 21st century.

What perks does HMD Global promise the Kenyan consumers?

Kenya clearly is the digital savannah of East Africa.  The proliferation of internet connectivity and smartphones in the Kenyan market makes it ideal as a target market for smartphones for most phone manufacturer brands like Samsung, Infinix and Tecno phones. What we have done is come up with Nokia phones that carve a sweet spot in the middle range niche in a saturated phone market.

The range of Nokia Phones launched in 2019 at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) include Nokia 210, Nokia 1 Plus, Nokia 3.2, Nokia 4.2 and Nokia 9 PureView. We have introduced durable and premium design  smartphones like the Nokia 5.1,4.2, 3.1,3.2 and 2.1 color screen phone that are affordable to the mid-range market as well as the low-income earners. Our cheapest phones retail for as little as Ksh 3500. Which is affordable to a majority of Kenyans.

As technology advances, so do our devices a well .We  have also launched some very  high-powered flagship smartphones like the Nokia 8 Sirocco and Nokia 9 pure View – which features five rear cameras and a 20mp front camera retailing at  Ksh 70,00, that cater for the high end market niche as well.

Our smartphones offer the users a clean version of Android with constant and fast updates. The regular Android updates are one of the main reason we forged a strategic partnership with google. In fact, after Google introduced Android 9.0 Pie last year, HMD was among the first companies to confirm that all our phones would be getting an update.

Gone are the days where you had to abandon your old phone to purchase a new one when you wanted to upgrade to the latest android version. With our Nokia smartphones all you need is to download the update, install it and Voila! Your entire system has been updated with all the latest firmware updates.

HMD global  smartphones also promise to alleviate the burden of insufficient memory on the device.  The Nokia phones have access to the Go store with Go version Apps that are lighter than standard apps. We opted to introduce the lite app version because they are smaller in size to maximize on the space.

Our customer care center provides top notch customer services to our esteemed customers. Any issues related to the Nokia phones functionality, can easily be sorted at our fully equipped customer care establishment located in Westlands, Nairobi.

No matter the geographical location within the country, your phone breaks down on you, you can get it diagnosed and fixed by our able technicians. We help our customers get a means to deliver their phones to the care center through various intermediaries. We also provide a 12 month warranty period for any of our faulty products within the time limit.

We just feel like we know what our customers want for their ultimate phone experience. We aim to deliver innovations to our customers and set new standards for the mobile phone market in Kenya.

What is the general perception of Nokia Phones in Kenya?

Since setting up roots in Kenya, we have received nothing but love. Well, not immediately at first, people were still unsure of the Android firmware on Nokia phones especially after predominantly using Windows OS before. Some were a bit skeptical about the availability of compatible external accessories and repair parts. But after intensive marketing campaigns, HMD global was able to rekindle the Nokia love among the Kenyan fans.

For the last few years the response from the Nokia fan base has been quite exhilarating. Their enthusiasm, engagement and love for our Nokia phones, especially the smartphones has enabled our products to reach even the most marginalized of areas in the country. Some stalls are known to have sold out when Nokia 2.1 was introduced in the Kenyan market.

HMD Global West, East and Central Africa boss Joseph Umunakwe and Celeste Muli-Gatheru during one of the Nokia smartphones Launch


How do you intend to win over those people a little shy to embrace Nokia phones?

Yes, as with many new startups, many people maybe a little cautious about embracing their products.  We have been trying to reach out to people, build communities and listen to what they would want on their phones. We also have very capable Sales and marketing departments that Liaise with Media platforms such as newspapers, television and tech blogs to push our agenda forward.

HMD global is also trying to corner the online market space by partnering with Jumia and Safaricom’s Masoko to push for Sales in the online community.  Besides that, our BnM retail stalls are spread out in all major towns in the country fully stocked with the latest Nokia models.

What can we expect from HMD global in the future?

You can expect more camera improvements in the Nokia smartphones. Especially with the selfie Camera. These days it’s all about selfies and we intend to capitalize on that.  Our tech team have some plans to introduce an extra button on the side of the phone-opposite side to the power and volume button, on flagship Nokia smartphones. The button is meant to give the user easier access to the Google assistant AI.  Voice activated search with AI assistants seems to be taking trend and we want our customers to be way ahead of the pack with Google Assistant.

Some people have asked whether we have any plans of making Tablets in the Future. Unfortunately that’s, not the case. We intend to continue launching smartphones and feature phones to suit the needs of our customers. For now, there is a wide range of Nokia phones to choose from in the Kenyan market including and not limited to Nokia 3310, Nokia 1, Nokia 2.1, Nokia 3.1 Plus, Nokia 5.1, Nokia 6.1 Plus, Nokia 7 Plus and Nokia 8.1.



About the Author

Sharon Adisa
Sharon is a writer and editor who strives to continually further both the depth and breadth of her skills as a writer so as to contribute superior work and deliver client and customer satisfaction.

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