Kenya has opened its first smartphone assembly plant in Athi River, Machakos, to produce low-cost 4G-enabled Neon 5 ‘Smarta’ and 6 ½ ‘Ultra’mobile phones for Kenyans.
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).
However, retail pricing for the devices starts from KSh 7,499 ($49.81), and the smartphones will be available nationwide at Faiba stores, dealer stores, Safaricom stores, and the Masoko online platform.
East Africa Device Assembly Kenya Limited (EADAK) will manufacture the phones. The EADAK is a joint venture of local Mobile Network Operators — Safaricom and Jamii Telecommunications — and a Chinese mobile device dealer, Shenzhen TeleOne Technology.
In June 2023, Kenya said telecom operators — Safaricom and Jamii Telecommunications — and Shenzhen would partner to launch locally assembled smartphones in Kenya.
Meanwhile, plans for more products, including locally assembled tablets, are in the works for the coming months.
Expectedly, the assembly line will create between 300 and 500 direct jobs and produce between 1.2 million and 1.4 million smartphones annually.
“This assembly plant will support the government’s agenda to enhance digital inclusion in the country. We have been able to achieve affordability through a collaborative approach that comprises industry partnership and favourable government policies,” said Joshua Chepkwony, Chairman of EADAK.
This news comes after Safaricom's Head of Venture, Karanja Gichiri, argued that Safaricom would not be able to achieve the target price of "a $50 smartphone" because the proposed taxes would push the cost of locally assembled smartphones to KSh11,500.