Saturday, 27 October 2018

Kenya to Develop Own Locally-made Phones

This is a good news for Kenya, Kenyans and the entire African continent at large as the number of African nations with their own locally-made phones has just increased by one as the east African nation, Kenya is added.

The government of Kenya is trying to put aside a billion shillings ($ 10 million) to boost startups working in the mobile phone software and hardware industry. Information and communications technology minister Joe Mucheru said the move was aimed at bolster manufacturing, making phones that are "suitable for our markets," besides driving down the prices of phones.

By announcing this, Kenya is undertaking a project similar to those in nations including the Republic of Congo and South Africa. Last December, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi also launched Nile X, a smartphone developed by Egyptian technology company SICO for local consumers.

Kenya's decision to assemble a local phone is pragmatic, given the increasing uptake in mobile phones across the country. In many ways, the East African Nation's economy is "mobile first": almost 98% of the population has access to a mobile phone, according to the Communications Authority of Kenya. This increasing ownership has also driven subscriptions to mobile money with the dominant playerbeing Safaricom's M-Pesa service, a global leader in the sector.

The increase in mobile phone usage also allowed startups to deliver innovative mobile-based solutions, including access credit, electricity, messaging, insurance, as well as payment for ride-hailing services. The rapid mobile uptake has been augmented by increasing internet speeds: one study shows Kenya's mobile average data connection speed in the first quarter of 2017 was almost twice as fast as the global average.

Hardware entrepreneurship is also growing in the country, with maker spaces like Gearbox and startups like BRCK building communications hardware meant to provide local solutions.

In spite of that, telephones develop locally and make them attractive to consumers will be a difficult task. Chinese handset maker Transsion Holdings will also prove a serious challenge for any Kenyan brand: using its research centers in Kenya and Nigeria and factories in Ethiopia, the Shenzhen-based company produces phones in and for the continent, some as cheap as $ 10. And As the company gears up two provide more features at affordable prices in the coming years, it is expected that both the smartphone and the phone's record-testing will allow Kenya's dream project to be easier said than done.

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