India added 240m phones/year build capacity in just one year

Why hello there, new electronics-making superpower

Between September 2015 and October 2016 India opened 38 new mobile phone factories with a combined peak output of 248m handsets a year.

So says a Department of Telecommunications report (PDF) into the nation's “Make In India” effort to kickstart a manufacturing industry. Of the 29 companies responsible, Reg readers may recognise only Taiwan's Foxconn and the United States' Flextronics. Plenty of local manufacturers make the list, often with capacity to make a couple of hundred thousand handsets a month and therefore perhaps a particular language as the target.

No matter who is making the phones it is surely worth noting that the world now buys about 1.4bn mobile phones a year and that India can now satisfy about 15 per cent of that demand. That's a big shift because China is already signalling it does not see manufacturing as its long-term growth driver. India, by contrast, has an ambition to attract more industry and hopes a virtuous cycle of investment will help it to find the funds needed to build the infrastructure required to attract more investment.

And India wants to go further, faster: the report says policy initiatives are in place to increase India's handset output to 500m a year by 2019. Efforts to create a components industry are also under way, with a target of 1.5 million jobs. 60,000 people have already been enrolled in electronics design and manufacturing courses.

To help things along, foreign investors are allowed to bankroll telecommunications projects without local participation and are also offered customs duties discounts on imported components.

If all goes well, India will be able to satisfy domestic demand and have export capacity to spare. ®

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