Huawei is to launch a low-cost Windows Phone 8 device in seven African markets this quarter as part of a partnership with Microsoft to drive up smartphone penetration on the continent.
The Huawei ‘4Afrika’ smartphone will be available in Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Angola, Morocco and South Africa “towards the latter part” of Q1. It is expected to retail at around US$150.
The device is a customised version of the Chinese vendor’s Ascend W1 smartphone launched at Consumer Electronics Show last month. It sports a 4-inch 480×800 display, dual-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon processor, front and rear-facing cameras, and 4GB of internal storage. It also features a customised store offering apps and content “built and designed by Africans for Africans.”
The launch forms part of Microsoft’s wider 4Afrika initiative, which also launches today. Microsoft says Windows Phone already has a strong presence in Africa with devices from HTC, Samsung, and Nokia. Indeed, another aspect of 4Afrika is a joint Nokia and Microsoft customer training programme in Kenya and Nigeria designed to help accelerate adoption of Nokia Lumia 510 and 620 phones.
Huawei, meanwhile, has been active in Africa since 1999, and claims to have worked with more than 18 African governments.
“A second major component of the 4Afrika programme sees Microsoft, somewhat unusually, becoming involved in an infrastructure project, in this case a wireless broadband network in Kenya’s Rift Valley that will use white spaces (unused broadcast spectrum) and solar power to bring Internet connectivity to people living in remote, rural areas, commented Matthew Reed, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media. “Microsoft is working alongside the Kenyan government and local ISP Indigo on the Rift Valley broadband project.”
“Other elements of the 4Afrika project include a portal for SMEs; a training centre that will offer technical and business courses; an AppFactory to encourage the development of African apps for the Windows Store; and a female empowerment portal, aimed at North African women.”