Designed in Congo

“Designed by VMK” ?

Whenever an African enterprise keeps close to the mobile market, the issue related to authentication raises. VMK is not the first African enterprise to commercialize a tactile tablet. Before us, a Nigerian enterprise illustrated itself in the commercialization of a similar product. Yet, the buzz created by this information soon turned to a controversy: the product was identical to many other ones available in China under another name. That’s what is called an OEM in computer jargon.

An OEM is a product manufactured in great quantity, but with no brand, and then sold by several distributors under many different labels: none of such distributors designed the original product (except packaging the product) ; they all buy the original product in bulk before printing simply their name (or their brand)on it.

Here is another element that comforts our stance. If we managed to sell our products with a worldwide operator such as Airtel, this means that we can vouch for our products – for the good of our partners – in terms of quality and authentication; which is impossible for an OEM seller to achieve such a giant step.

The issue related to authentication is worth being raised. Indeed, too many people confusedly translate the English concept “designed” (which means in French “planned, the way or process in which something was planned and made – or a drawing which showed how a object, machine or building was made”) into the French word “désigner” ( a pitfall which expresses physical appearance to be given to a product). Both words are totally in terms of meaning and context; however, we assume that the phonetic approach of the two words might easily mislead anybody.

Having said this, we might then understand the concerns or issues raised by some people regarding this slight difference in the meaning of the above mentioned words. However, we are somewhat offended by the disregard of those who persist in denying the authentication of our products, despite evidence. Most of those critics are either Afro-pessimistic (who argue that “nothing good can come from Africa”), or just (future) competitors who have an OEM on the market or are planning to market and/or commercialize one.

Given that some people may think we are using OEMs, how come that, so far, there is no other product on the market similar to ours? Why isn’t there anybody capable of showing us the product whose design or internal structure has been traced or cribbed by us?