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Kenya to start manufacturing smartphones worth Sh5,000

ICT CS Eliud Owalo: They are not just going to manufacture telephone equipment but we are also going to start manufacturing ICT software

People using their smart phones (Twitter)

CS for ICT and Digital Economy, Eliud Owalo, has confirmed that the government of Kenya, will start manufacturing phones worth $40 (about Sh4,000- Sh5,000) in July 2023.

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According to the government, this is the best way to address the unemployment in the country.

"Although telcos such as Safaricom, Airtel, and Jamii Telecom are competitors, they have realized they need to work together to leverage some level of creativity and innovation to address a deficit in the market. That deficit is smart-enabled phones," said Owalo.

"With the infrastructure such as Konza already in place, we are going to roll out this initiative and start manufacturing software by around July," he added.

Owalo, who was speaking on Citizen TV on Tuesday, January 10, 2023, to address the progress of the government's digital agenda, said that Kenya must become a net exporter and not an importer as has been the case in the past.

"The infrastructure is there. The telecom companies will set out their operations. They are not just going to manufacture telephone equipment but we are going to start manufacturing ICT software. In the not distant future, Kenya will be a net exporter of technology as opposed to being an importer," he said.

The CS added that since not all Kenyans will have smart-enabled phones, the best solution to fill the market void is by manufacturing ones that will benefit them.

"For example, today we have launched the hustler fund; most people we are targeting are those at the bottom echelons of the Kenyan society. Not all of them will have smart-enabled phones. That is a market void that needs to be filled," he said.

When asked about the components of the software that would be imported if Kenya is unable to make them locally, the CS stated that the initiative is feasible and bankable and a feasibility study has already been done.

"It is not a question of trying out your luck. It is a feasible, bankable proposal that is in place. The feasibility study has already been done. That is what is informing the cost proposition that is envisaged. The market demand, envisaged cost of production, as well as the envisaged profit levels by the Telcos has been assessed," Owalo affirmed.

In the Sh400 million budget for his entire tech strategy, President William Ruto promised to make Kenya a regional hub and promote the development of software for export.

The country has had some major technological advances over the years, and the current administration is planning to add even more.

In April 2022, former ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru launched the Kenya National Digital Master Plan (2022-2032), meant to act as a single point of reference for all

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