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“First ever” African-designed smartphone launched in Congo

Technology firm VMK have launched what it claims is the first ever smartphone fully designed and engineered in Africa into the Congolese market.

Though designed in Africa, the phone, christened Elikia, which means ‘hope’ in Congolese, was assembled in China given the much lower assembly costs in the Asian country.

Speaking to AFP, 27-year-old Verone Mankou, head of VMK, said that he spent €90,000 (US$118,000) to develop the first prototype and that the phone will be sold at €130 (US$170) in the Congolese market, with launches in other countries set for later this year.

Elikia runs on Android 2.3 platform, which critics think is obsolete in the international market. However, to counter this, Elikia comes with the Holo Launcher pre-installed to simulate Android 4.0.

The 11.2-millimetre phone weighs 150 grammes and comes with a 650 MHz processor, a 3.5-inch touchscreen and front and back 5 megapixel cameras. Elikia also features 512MB of RAM, an internal memory of 256MB that can be expanded up to 32GB. It is also able to connect via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

The phone was due to go on sale in October last year, but launch was delayed because of what Mankou called “an explosion in demand”.

Airtel and Warid, both leading mobile operators in Congo, are currently selling the phone. Other distributors include Burotop Iris in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire, and the French Institute of Congo (IFC)

Mankou said that he plans to dominate the African market just as Samsung and Apple are dominating the world.

This will, however, not come easy for the entrepreneur as Samsung, Apple and Research In Motion’s (RIM) BlackBerry are already dominating the smartphone market in Africa with much cheaper handsets.

Posted in: Mobile

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