Chinese mobile device dealer, Shenzhen TeleOne Technology, is collaborating with telecom operators — Safaricom and Jamii Telecommunications — to launch locally assembled smartphones in Kenya.
Shenzhen is a subsidiary of Tinko Group, which manufactures, produces, and sells alkaline, carbon, and rechargeable batteries.
The partnership will support the establishment of a low-cost smartphone manufacturing facility in Kenya.
In May 2023, the Kenyan government announced that it would release its first consignment of one million locally assembled smartphones in July at a retail price of $40 (Ksh 5,506).
Remember that Safaricom is developing an assembly line to produce between 1.2 million and 1.4 million smartphones annually.
Safaricom's Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Stephen Kiptiness, said the assembly plant setup is nearly complete, and manufacturing should begin within the next two months.
Kiptiness also said it would take six months after manufacturing begins for the finished product to hit the retail market.
He estimated the smartphone’s ideal price to be between $40 and $50.
A lower price could be possible, depending on how the manufacturing process turns out. He added that the parties involved in this partnership and the government are working hard to develop a product that will be competitive in the retail market.
In May 2023, Safaricom's Head of Venture, Karanja Gichiri, appeared before a parliamentary committee, arguing against new taxes proposed in the Finance Bill 2023.
The taxation regime, he claimed, would push the price of locally made smartphones to KSh11,500, making it impossible to achieve the proposed price.
What's more, the Konza Technopolis in Malili, Machakos County, will house the smartphone factory.