A Kenyan government official has promised that the country will unveil its first locally made – and affordable – smartphones in the next two months in an attempt to increase the penetration of internet-enabled mobile phones in the country.
Eliud Owalo, the country’s ICT Cabinet Secretary (CS), made the announcement, during which he pointed out that smartphones are expensive in Kenya and that this has held back digital inclusion.
Little is being revealed about the new devices, including the company making them and whether any components will be imported. However, according to local service Capital News, they are being assembled at the Konza Technopolis in Malili, Machakos County. At somewhere around US$40 they are certainly going to more affordable than many devices, although that is a very ambitious figure.
However, this has long been the government’s aim. In fact it was in November last year that Kenyan President William Ruto stated his administration’s intention to manufacture Africa’s cheapest smartphone within the next 12 months. He noted that a low-cost device will ensure that all Kenyans have digital access to government services and business platforms.
Locally made smartphones are not a new idea in Africa. It was back in 2019 that we reported that Rwanda’s Mara Group had launched two smartphones, which it described as the first Made in Africa models. However, at the time the Mara Group suggested that it was targeting customers willing to pay more for quality – and of course for smartphones manufactured in Africa. The Kenyan devices will, it is hoped, be much cheaper.