In a significant announcement emphasizing affordable digital inclusion, the government has reaffirmed its commitment to introduce cheap smartphones to the market, thereby ensuring digital access for all citizens, irrespective of their economic status. The Information Communication and Technology (ICT) Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo has confirmed that comprehensive feasibility studies have been conducted, establishing the nation’s ability to produce locally assembled smartphones that align with the ‘cheap smartphone’ niche, providing consumers with a cost-effective alternative to more expensive brands.
The ICT Cabinet Secretary disclosed that these budget-friendly smartphones, the first batch of which will soon be gracing the market, will be accessible to every Kenyan. This unprecedented move aims to bridge the digital divide that has long been a cause for concern, primarily due to the exorbitant cost of smartphones. The government has set the cost of these phones at a highly competitive 40 USD (Sh. 5,516), marking a significant milestone in its bid to make digital services more accessible and affordable.
This announcement was made by Owalo during the inauguration of digital laboratories at Maseno School. Addressing the press, he highlighted how the prohibitive cost of smartphones had excluded many Kenyans from accessing government services, which have increasingly transitioned to digital platforms. “The affordability of smartphones has been a major hindrance to the digital inclusion of many Kenyans. That’s why, as a government, we have resolved to produce these devices locally,” he stated.
In the quest for digital inclusivity, the government has already laid extensive digital infrastructure across the nation. Owalo further emphasized that these low-cost handsets would now be a valuable tool in the hands of the majority of Kenyans, facilitating their digital engagement.
The assembly of these budget-friendly smartphones will take place at the Konza Technopolis, situated in Machakos County. This initiative marks an excellent example of public-private partnerships, as Owalo confirmed the government’s collaboration with stakeholders in the private and manufacturing sectors. The aim is to produce and roll out these low-cost smartphones, effectively responding to the market demand for cheaper alternatives.
The ICT Cabinet Secretary, accompanied by Gem MP Elisha Odhiambo, Suba South MP Caroli Omondi, and former Kisumu Senator Fred Outa, also launched similar digital laboratories at Maseno University and Yala High School. These labs, together with the planned rollout of cheap smartphones, underscore the government’s unwavering commitment to promoting digital literacy and accessibility across the nation, democratizing digital services in a significant way.
In conclusion, this initiative by the government to roll out cheap smartphones is a significant leap toward achieving a digitally inclusive society. It underscores the government’s resolve to address the affordability issue, thereby enabling every Kenyan to leverage digital platforms to their advantage, while contributing to the broader economic growth of the nation. The entire nation awaits the arrival of these budget-friendly devices with great anticipation.