Garmin has partnered with telco giant MTN to launch a line of fitness watches in Ghana, TechCrunch is reporting. Under the deal, MTN will offer a number of Garmin products, including vivoFit3, vivoMove, vivoActive, Fenix3, and vivoSmart through select distribution outlets.
The entry level device, vivoFit 3, is priced around $148, and with all Garmin devices, users get a free three-month 900MB data bundle.
According to Walter Mech, Garmin MD for Sub-Saharan Africa, this is just a start with rollout in additional countries coming in the near future. "We've had a strong presence with our GPS tools products… but less emphasis on our health and wellness lines, so we started to look around for new countries and distribution models," he said.
Garmin's main office on the continent is in South Africa, but there's a presence in 25 additional African countries through distribution deals. South Africa is also Garmin's largest African market for wearables followed by Kenya and Tanzania.
Mech believes Garmin can succeed in Africa on tech wearables based on demographic trends and an early commitment to the market. "Many of the other brands don't see the notion that Africa is going to have a much more health conscious population, younger population, and mobile tech gadget oriented population," he said. "We've also seen an emergence of gyms, sports clubs, cycling and running clubs for both men and women."
As part of the plan to expand sales on the continent, Garmin will consider more fitness and sports-related sponsorships in Ghana and other African countries to market its wearables. The company sponsored the Nairobi international marathon in October 2016.