Chinese phone manufacturer, Huawei, has revealed plans today to launch a specially designed Windows operated smartphone, to be sold in Africa only. After news circulated last month that a large proportion of Kenyans spend more money on their mobile phones than they do on food, it would seem that smartphones are big business in the world’s second biggest continent.
The phone will be a variant on the Ascend W1 unveiled at CES in January, and will sport a 4 inch screen and a 5 MP rear-facing camera, as well as an impressive battery life. Although prices for the new device have yet to be announced, Gustavo Fuchs, the director of the Windows Phone division of Microsoft in the Middle East and Africa, told the BBC that the Huawei model will be “the most affordable Windows Phone in Africa”.
Huawei’s collaboration with Microsoft is to support the 4Afrika Initiative, a Microsoft-led project which aims to improve Africa’s economic development and global competitiveness. With the help of the model, Microsoft is planning to develop affordable wireless connections in the Rift Valley in Kenya, in order to encourage local people in South Africa and Egypt to create and develop their own Windows apps.
The success of the Windows Phone in Africa, Fuchs told the BBC, is heavily reliant on the development of local apps which are salient to the African people; if this isn't successful, it is unlikely that people will see the benefit of converting to smartphone technology. The aim of Huawei and Microsoft’s joint project is to increase the number of smartphones owned by people across the continent, which requires the Huawei Windows Phone to be affordable, above all.
It has been reported that the bespoke Ascend W1 will be sold in seven nations across Africa, including Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, the Ivory Coast, Angola, Morocco and South Africa in the coming weeks.
Written by Charlotte Kertrestel