Google plans cheap smartphones for Africa

Digital Content

Technology company, Google, plans to reduce the cost of smart phones in Africa to an affordable range in order to boost the use of the internet.

The company intends to sell genuine smart phones at prices below Shs225,000 ($80) to encourage more Africans to abandon basic phones with a few functions, according to Mr Nelson Mattos, the vice president for Google Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Smart phones are those designed with the internet and thousands of applications to enable their users to rely on them as mini-computers.

Genuine smart phones from companies like; Nokia, Samsung, Apple, LG and Huawei cost between $90 and $800 a range that is out of reach for ordinary Africans and other developing markets.

“When you look at the disposable income in Africa compared to that in Europe, the price (of smart phones) in Africa today is 100 times more. So, it’s not surprising that the uptake of smart phones in Europe is taking off and not in Africa,” Mr Mattos told Daily Monitor in interview yesterday during the Google conference in Kampala.

He added that Google’s planned partnership with US firm Motorola, maker of Motorola phones, is aimed at creating affordable smart phones for its emerging markets including Africa and Asia.
“We know that majority of people in Africa access the internet via the mobile phone, Motorola being a player in that industry will allow us to speed up access to the internet through the uptake of smart phones,” he said.

Uganda has about 4 million internet users who access the internet at least once a month, according to the Uganda Communications Commission.

Google, which has operations in Uganda is playing a key role to promote the use of the internet through creating local content for internet users.

For instance, the company has mapped most key and relevant places in Uganda and has also translated its search engine to Luganda, Kiswahili, Luo and Runyakitara.