Microsoft and Huawei Introduce Windows Phone in Africa

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Posted 4 years ago

In a blog post last week, I wrote about Intel and its quest to become a force in the emerging African market by teaming up with Safaricom to launch the “Yolo” smartphone. Well, the rapidly growing mobile scene is going to be treated to another low-cost handset, as Microsoft has revealed it has teamed up with Chinese telecoms giant Huawei to launch a tailored version of the Ascend W1.

The continent of Africa is one of the world’s fastest growing technology markets, but smartphones are still a fairly new concept with the vast majority of consumers still using feature phones.

“We believe there has never been a better time to invest in Africa and that access to technology — particularly cloud services and smart devices — can and will serve as a great accelerator for African competitiveness,” said president of Microsoft International Jean-Philippe Courtois on the Windows blog.

Huawei also confirmed the smartphone, dubbed the “Huawei 4Africa” in a statement of its own, which said that the device would come with a customized app store, with applications and content built by Africans for their domestic customers.

The 4Africa initial rollout will be in Angola, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Morocco and South Africa, with handsets priced in relation to the retail climate of each country.

Talking to the BBC, Gustavo Fuchs, Microsoft’s director of the Windows Phone division in the Middle East and Africa, said that the companies aim was to “be the most affordable Windows phone in Africa,” estimating there to be “tens of millions of smart devices available across the continent in the next couple of years.”

Currently, more than 90 percent of phones sold in Nigeria and Kenya are feature phones, and Microsoft are looking for the 4Africa to provide local consumers with apps and features to tempt change.

“Affordability is important but without the right local content we believe a lot of users will not see the benefit in the change from a basic feature phone to a smartphone,” Fuchs said to the BBC, and content is exactly what Microsoft is looking to offer.

The Huawei 4Africa will be aimed at middle-income users, developers and small business owners and will be priced at $150.

– Anthony Carter

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