Africa to get its first 3G smart feature phone

Feature phones are dead? Not so much! MTN Group and various partners will launch Africa’s very first 3G smart feature phone in 2019!

The 3G device, which was announced last month, will be powered by KaiOS. is expected to hit the shelves next year in the first quarter. and will enable users to be fully connected with 3G internet with more affordable cost. The phone will cost between$20 and $25.

Deepening African markets

MTN Group's CEO, Rob Shuter, said MTN is proud to be part of this partnership and that it supports the company's ambitions to deepen digital inclusion in Africa's markets. "This initiative contributes to the achievement of one of our key goals to provide affordable data enabled handsets to our customers, and by so doing, remove some of the barriers to mobile internet adoption in Africa.”

The full specifications of the 3G feature phone are:

  • Connectivity through Wi-Fi and 3G
  • Bluetooth
  • GPS
  • Google Assistant and other digital smart services
  • 2 cameras, rear and front camera
  • Music and video streaming services
  • Battery 2000mAh
  • Dual SIM card
  • 256MB/512MB RAM/ROM
  • 4’ screen

Impact on African communities

The CEO of KaiOS Technologies, Sebastien Codeville, said: “With 834 million people still unconnected to the internet in Africa, today’s launch with MTN, UNISOC, and China Mobile stands to have a significant impact on communities across the continent. MTN has one of the largest customer bases in the region and coupled with KaiOS, we’re taking an important step toward closing the digital divide on the continent.”

Meanwhile, the Executive Vice President of China Mobile Communications Group Co, Li Huidi, noted that "as the largest telecoms operator in China, we have made fruitful attempts at rapidly promoting business development through device customization. We hope to share our experiences in this regard with international operator partners, and help them expand market presence through device customization, thus delivering the dividend of reliable mobile networks to more users."

Digitalization of the continent

“As the largest operator in Africa, MTN Group has achieved excellent progress," Huidi continued. "China Mobile is very honored to be MTN’s strategic and cooperative partner and is willing to provide customized integrated device solutions to MTN. Jointly, we can provide intelligent connectivity for the multi-billion market in Africa, and help to promote the digitalization of the continent,” added Li Huidi.

“UNISOC has been in the African market for over 10 years and every year more than 100 million mobile phones powered by UNISOC chips are sold in Africa. UNISOC is glad to partner with MTN, China Mobile and KaiOS, and together we will continue to invest more to fill in the gaps in the mobile communications and IoT fields in African markets. With customized solutions and excellent services, we will create a rich and diversified mobile ecosystem for Africa that will enable more than 1 billion African consumers to connect intelligently,” added UNISOC's Executive Vice President Adam Zeng.

Previously published on Tech in Africa