In an unprecedented move signaling a new era of technological progression, Kenya is all set to launch its first indigenously manufactured smartphones within the forthcoming two months. This ambitious initiative is spearheaded by the Kenyan government, which envisions accelerating the uptake of internet-enabled mobile phones across the nation. As internet penetration continues to be a crucial pillar in modern development, this initiative seeks to bridge the digital divide, an effort that has been hitherto hindered by the prohibitive costs of digital devices.
The ICT Cabinet Secretary, Eliud Owalo, underscored the fact that the exorbitant prices of such digital devices have consistently been a significant barrier impeding comprehensive digital inclusion. Against this backdrop, the forthcoming launch of locally assembled smartphones signals a welcome shift in Kenya’s ICT landscape.
These novel gadgets, set to retail at an affordable price of Sh5,488 (equivalent to $40), are currently being assembled at the Konza Technopolis, situated in Malili, Machakos County. This cost point is particularly significant given the prevailing high costs of big-brand smartphones, such as Samsung, that dominate the Kenyan market.
“We are acutely aware that the question of the affordability of ICT devices poses a considerable challenge to the potential for citizens to fully harness the vast opportunities present in this sector,” commented Owalo. “In view of this, we have initiated active dialogues with a broad spectrum of stakeholders in the ICT and manufacturing sectors on the possibility of manufacturing low-cost smartphones and reducing data costs.”
Notwithstanding this pivotal development, the Cabinet Secretary remained reluctant to disclose the identity of the company that is set to manufacture these smartphones.
It is noteworthy to recall that back in 2013, 14 companies, including significant players like Chinese corporation Huawei and local telecom giant Safaricom, had expressed interest in establishing operations within the Konza City project. The extent of their involvement in the upcoming smartphone production remains speculative at this stage.
The introduction of locally made smartphones is a testament to Kenya’s commitment to digital inclusivity and affordable connectivity. By coupling affordability with access to internet-enabled devices, the government seeks to provide its citizenry with the means to tap into the limitless potential of the digital age.