As Kenyans continue to wait for the affordable smartphones promised by the government, Safaricom has made a major announcement that it is in the final stages of setting up a smartphone assembling plant in Kenya.
Safaricom, the largest telecommunications company within and without Kenya, has been at the forefront of pushing for smartphone penetration among Kenyans through their Lipa Mdogo Mdogo product where customers get a smartphone and pay smaller amounts daily.
Speaking after jetting back into the country from Ethiopia, Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa said the company knows that the main challenge that hinders many Kenyans from owning smartphones is the cost associated with new devices, promising to continue championing cheaper phones.
“Cost is a major hindrance to the majority of our customers… We are in the final stages of launching our first ever device assembly plant giving Kenyans an opportunity to own locally assembled quality 4G devices,” said Mr. Ndegwa.
Mr. Ndegwa’s announcement comes a few days after the Cabinet Secretary for ICT assured Kenyans that the government’s affordable smartphones will hit the markets at the beginning of November.
Kenyans are however no longer taking the good CS seriously given that this is the third time he is making similar promises with timelines with no smartphone to be seen. Perhaps Safaricom will be the first to give Kenyans the first locally assembled smartphone.
Kenya is among a few countries in the continent whose smartphone penetration is the highest with the Communications Authority placing the devices in the country at about 30.8 million.
All smartphones sold on the Kenyan market are imported from other countries. Major companies such as OPPO, Samsung, and HMD make their phones in other countries and ship them to Kenya.
HMD started manufacturing its phones a few months ago, making it the third largest phone manufacturer in the world with a promise of setting up a manufacturing base in Kenya.