South Africa: Vodacom launches US$50 smartphone


South African operator Vodacom has launched a self-branded, ZAR549 (US$51) mobile phone, with the aim of making mobile internet accessible to all South Africans.

Vodacom said the device -called the Smart Kicka – was designed specifically with easy internet access in mind, which is why the price also includes five 50 megabyte (MB) data Power Bundles to give customers instant internet access on purchasing the device.

“At the moment only 27 per cent of people living in South Africa’s emerging markets have access to smart devices. We aim to double that number in the next year,” said Phil Patel, chief commercial officer (CCO) at Vodacom.

“The Smart Kicka is not only affordable, coming in at around the US$50 level, but also offers the best from a technology perspective. Put simply it gives users the best possible internet experience without breaking the bank,” Patel said.

The new device runs on the latest Android 4.4 KitKat operating system, has over 4 gigabytes (GB) of memory, features a 3.5” screen and a two mega-pixel camera.

Vodacom said the included data bundles are intended to help first time internet users explore the possibilities of the web, adding that bundles are the key to mobile internet access in South Africa.

“Our strategy is to provide customers, particularly those on tight budgets, with exactly what they need, when they need it, and at a price they can afford,” said Patel.

“Much has been said about bringing down prices for those consuming large amounts of voice and data, but this bundle strategy is the key to driving internet penetration for all South Africans,” he said.

The operator claims its focus on data bundles has brought down the average effective price per MB of data by 30 per cent over the past year; and has prompted a 70 per cent increase in data traffic on its network – with 52 per cent of Vodacom’s 32.5 million South African customers using mobile data.

Vodacom said it is working on developing its network infrastructure to support this increased uptake of mobile data.

“Our strategy is very simple. We aim to have 3G coverage wherever we have voice coverage,” said Patel.