Whisked through 'Samsung passport control' at a Zambian airport
- Published on 05 September 2012
The African continent is largely seen by international companies as the last untapped market in which to expand their businesses. But I think the likes of electronics maker Samsung may have taken one step too far in this regard, owing to a strange experience I had at Zambia's Lusaka airport.
It isn't strange that top tech companies such as IBM and Qualcomm have, for example, established their regional hubs in Kenya this year.
But one particular investment that has caught my eye on the continent has been that of electronics company Samsung's presence in Zambia, especially after I visited the country last week on a press trip with the organisation.
Although Samsung obviously isn't the only foreign company that has made its presence felt in Zambia, it is the only business that I'm aware of (and possibly even anywhere in the world) that has its own branded passport control check-in point at Lusaka's international airport.
Yes, you've read that correctly. In Zambia, Samsung officials or any of the company's associates do not have to stand in long queues to check-in to the country, as they can simply check in at the designated Samsung passport control counter - an experience that I had first-hand.
The one thing you can't ignore from the moment that you enter the country is the company's strong presence – from the massive billboard advertisement of the Galaxy SIII alongside the runway, to the huge blue and white Samsung advertisements that litter the dusty roads of Lusaka.
And with just that observation it becomes clear to me that Samsung has secured its position as the favoured electronics brand in the country.
It also leaves me asking how this happened and whether the rigour with which the likes of a multinational company such as Samsung makes its presence felt in Africa is commendable, or if it is becoming just a bit too much?
We can't deny Africa needs to be on par with the rest of the world in terms of foreign direct investment, but surely large inflows of cash should not lead to a company such as Samsung to having its own passport control counter at Lusaka's International airport?
I feel that African officials could be "selling" the continent at a cheap price. So what if a company has invested billions of dollars in your country. Surely, it shouldn't merit an easy pass to get into that country if you work for a company such as Samsung?
Yes, it was convenient for me to stand in a Samsung dedicated queue after a long flight, but having a private facility in a public space is taking things a bit overboard.
There are some lines that should not be blurred. And I think Samsung and Zambia's government need to take this advice into consideration.
Simnikiwe Mzekandaba is ITWeb Africa's editorial assistant.