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Xiaomi to Sell Smartphones in Africa, in Search of Growth Outside China

BEIJING—Xiaomi Corp. will begin sales in Africa this month, as the Chinese smartphone maker continues its overseas expansion to offset a slowing domestic market.

Xiaomi will pass along a wide range of functions to an African distributor, suggesting the difficulty of reproducing its innovative online sales model in other markets.

On Monday, the company said its Redmi 2 and Mi 4 smartphones will be sold in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya beginning in the middle of this month. The sales will take place through a distribution partnership with Mobile in Africa Group, the company said.

In China, Xiaomi rose to the top through a lean model of selling bargain phones online with low overhead. But as it expands overseas, Xiaomi is relying on more traditional sales channels in some markets.

It comes as China’s most valuable startup is facing fierce domestic competition, especially from Huawei Technologies Co. Analysts say Huawei has seen faster China sales growth in the past year, with some research firms such as Canalys saying it has passed Xiaomi in China market share.

With China’s domestic market growing saturated, Xiaomi hasexpanded in emerging markets this year, with particular emphasis in India and Brazil.

In Africa, MIA Group will oversee the importation, logistics, marketing and support for Xiaomi’s phone sales, Xiaomi said. The phones will be sold through mobile operators, websites and retailers in the three African countries.

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