The import of mobile handsets has witnessed a steady growth over the last three years with the rise in the number of mobile users in the country.
Imports of mobile sets during the first 10 months of this fiscal year have surpassed imports during all of last year by 27.08 percent, according to Department of Customs.
A total of 885,823 mobile sets worth Rs. 2.87 billion were imported during the first 10 months of this year against 601,601 handsets worth Rs. 2.26 billion previously. The country had imported 583,503 sets worth Rs. 1.64 billion in the fiscal year 2007/08.
There were 6,828,468 mobile users in the country as of mid-April 2010 compared to 4,802,482 in the last fiscal year 2008/09.
Nabaraj Bhandari, director general of the Department of Customs, said the government’s policy was also important for the growth in mobile imports as mobile dealers were getting a VAT rebate of 60 percent. “This policy has helped to tackle the import of smuggled mobile sets,” he said.
Mobile importers also admit that the mobile market has been growing in a speedy way. Big names such as the Triveni Group, Golchha Group, Vishal Group, Chaudhary Group, Jyoti Group and IMS Tele Trade are involved in the trade of mobile sets besides a number of small importers. In 2010, around half a dozen new mobile brands were launched in Nepal.
According to Ramesh Shrestha, general manager of CG Electronics, sales of mobile sets are on the rise due to easy availability of SIM cards.
There is a growing number of Chinese and Indian mobile sets with attractive features in the market which have also contributed to the growth in the mobile handset market, according to Shrestha. The Chaudhary Group is the authorised dealer of LG, CG and Alcatel mobile handsets in Nepal.
Other handsets available in the Nepali market include Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, Philips, Spice, Colours, Micromax, Bird, Karbon, G Five, CG and Yasuda, among others.
Sanjay Golchha, managing director of Neoteric Nepal which is one of the authorised distributor of Nokia handsets in Nepal, said the import of mobile handsets would increase till the penetration level reaches 40 to 50 percent of the population. The penetration level at present is around 25 percent, he added.