The managing director of Skysat Technologies, Mr Izzat Debs, the sole distributor of global digital printing machine brands, Konica Minolta and Brother in Nigeria and Ghana and the organizers of the forthcoming digital print solution exhibition in Abuja, in this interview with BAYO AMODU, said the Nigerian market is still the biggest in Africa with high customers’ enthusiasm. He also spoke on the benefits of digital printing among others. Excerpts:
What is Skysat Technologies all about and how long have you been doing business in Nigeria?
We have been in business in Nigeria for a long time; my great grandfather has been in Nigeria since the 1920s. I am a citizen of Nigeria. Actually, we should commend our partners, Konica Minolta and Brother who have given us the trust and the confidence as their distributors here in Nigeria and in Ghana. They have given us the confidence and they took the courage to make their investments here to the extent we have reached today.
How long is your partnership relationship with Konica Minolta and Brother?
We have been with them for the fifth year running, our company; Skysat Technologies specializes in the distribution of their products. They are among the top five companies in the world when it comes to digital printers, multifunction peripherals, copiers, printing machines, document management and solutions. We are proud to say we have done a very good penetration in the market from all different angles, talking about commercial sector, government sector, corporate organisations, educational sector among others.
We are organizing an exhibition that is coming up on Wednesday this week, which will be our fourth exhibition. At that exhibition, we will display the latest machines available in the market today. It promises to be a very exciting exhibition.
What are your most contending challenges since you ventured into this business in Nigeria?
Of course, the biggest challenge today for any business in Nigeria is power. There are not enough generation and distribution of power and I think the minister of power and the authority are working very hard to find the solution to the problem. If the government can solve the problem of power, it will solve 70 per cent of Nigeria’s problems because so many businesses will be able to open, so many people will be able to operate. Even in big cities, there is not enough power. There seems to be improvement lately, a lot has to be done in terms of power generation. This is one challenge.
The second one is the exchange rate. Because we are import-dependent nation, and we import most things in Dollars, it has been a very challenging time for the government to be able to have enough Dollars to sell to genuine importers. This affects the pricing, the costing and everything. These two are the main challenges we have. Otherwise, the market is very big and the level of enthusiasm, the level of entrepreneurial spirit Nigerians have is nowhere to be compared to in any other place in Africa.
What are the advantages or benefits of these machines compared to the old offset printing machines?
The big difference between digital and offset printing is that when it comes to offset machines, there is a minimum quantity you can print because you have to design the plates for every single different design that you want to produce. Let’s say for example a business card, you cannot just print 100 or 200, you need to print thousands of that particular design in an offset printing press. Whereas when it comes to digital printing, it is for shorter runs. You have this flexibility of being able to produce smaller print runs than when it comes to offset printing.
Then, the cost of the machines is much lesser. Talking of buying an offset printing today, you talk of €500, 000, €1 million. If you are talking about new machines, it runs in millions of euros. But ours, when it comes to digital printing machines, you can start with as low as N1 million for those commercial printers. We have many of them like Commerce Plaza, UTC market in Abuja, or any of the commercial print markets anywhere and they start with as low as that and they can migrate to much bigger machines and invest in the ones that run into several millions. These are the advantages. Of course, the print quality is really great. Konica Minolta is very known to be the best. The quality of colour is number one in the market today.
You have over 900 customers. Based on your experience, what is the situation with acceptance of your products in the market?
Already, the fact that we have many customers is a testimony of our success. The most important thing for us is to see a satisfied customer making continuous purchases from us. This is the customer who is happy with us and wants to buy more. So, I have so many customers that started with one machine or two machines but have not only doubled, they have opened branches all over. This is a testimony that the customers are happy with us. And we are doing our very best when it comes to support. We have about 45-50 technicians spread all over our different branches including the ones in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kaduna, Lagos, Accra and Kumasi in Ghana. All these technicians have all done a lot of online training. When it comes to Konica Minolta, we have this online academy and we have sent many of them to Germany, Dubai to do further trainings. These are our backbones because these are the ones that are giving support to our customers. Now, when the customers come to buy machines from us, we always make sure that we train them on how to operate the machines very well. And the backup is there with our technicians to make sure the machines are always working.
Your machines come with many softwares. Can you tell us about them?
There are lots of different applications for example features like user authentication; meaning that you can actually put different level of security on the machines. For example, on an office floor where you have about 30-40 different desks of different employees and they are all connected to about two or three copiers like multifunction peripherals, you can set up this software application like user authentication where each user who has the authority to use the machine will have to put his own password and retrieve the job or document he sent to the machine. He won’t be able to retrieve his documents until he puts in his password. There are other softwares like the fulumin print where you can send a document in one floor or building in the same place and go and collect it in another building that you are connected to. Once we install all these machines in your organization, you can be able to retrieve the documents or use these machines anywhere within that organization.
There are lots of softwares that will be unveiled during our exhibition coming up this Wednesday. We actually have eight specialists that will be on ground during the exhibition and they will be doing all kinds of presentations.
What should your audience expect at the exhibition?
We are expecting a lot of people to come. We have done a lot of advertising. Even though the economic environment is very harsh now, a lot of businesses are going through tough time; this is the good time to use our products. Our products are good for you to save money and you will become more efficient. This is the best time for you to use our products. The good thing is that we are going to have experts coming from Europe and Japan and they will be making all kinds of different presentations. There will be presentations on how they can use the machines for commercial purposes and shops. For the industrial market, we are launching a new industrial machine which is called the C71CF – it is for label printing. It is ideal for all kinds of industries that need to produce labels. We have also for corporate institutions like banks, finance, insurance companies-all kinds of solutions that will be beneficial for them.