ICT CS Reveals Features of Ksh 5K Phone Made in Kenya, Unveils Rollout Date

Ruto and Smartphones
A photo collage of President William Ruto and a collection of smartphones
Citizen Digital

Information Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo on Tuesday, January 10, revealed elements of the first Kenyan-made smartphone.

The smartphones that were currently being manufactured at the Konza Technopolis plant in Malili, Machakos County, will have fully loaded Android capacity. 

“The telecoms have realised that in the near future, Kenya must become a manufacturer of phones and cheap technology as opposed to a chief importer, so we are going to start manufacturing, the technology is already there and we are going to roll out this initiative by July,” Owalo explained.

The first batch of made-in-Kenya phones will retail at around USD 40, which should be between Ksh4,000 and Ksh5,000.  

Information, Communication Technology and Digital Economy Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo arriving at KBC on Tuesday November 1, 2022.
Information, Communication Technology, and Digital Economy Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo arriving at KBC on Tuesday, November 1, 2022.

According to CS Owalo, mass production of the smartphones began rightly, and the first batch will be available for purchase by August 2023. 

Through partnership with American tech giant, Google, the smartphone will have basic features such as call, text, timing and calendar applications. 

At the same time, the smartphone will allow users to install other mobile secondary applications. 

The first Kenyan-made smartphone will run three types of mobile apps - namely native, web, and hybrid applications. 

In the Kenyan-made smartphone, native apps will be built specifically for a mobile device’s Android operating system (OS). 

The smartphone will also have access to Web Apps that provide users with a great digital experience via browsers.

Kenya's smartphone will not have stand alone Web apps, but will provide access to resources through responsive websites that adapt their user interface to the devices.

The third type of mobile apps that Kenyan-made smartphone will run is hybrid applications which are essentially web apps that look and feel like native apps.

Kenyan smartphone will have a home screen app icon, responsive design, fast performance, even be able to function offline.

A smartphone graphic showing different apps contained on a handset.
A smartphone graphic showing different apps contained on a handset.

“We will not only be able to meet the demands in the local market, we will also have a surplus for export,” CS Owalo added.

Considering the fact that Kenyan-made smartphones will be running the powerful Android operating system (OS) developed by Google, these devices will make up part of 70 per cent of all phones bought across the world.

CS Owalo also confirmed that Kenya is planning to develop and export  technologies such as software. 

On Thursday, November 10, President William Ruto revealed that his government was planning to start manufacturing affordable smartphones.

"The real last mile in technology is the gadgets and we are working with our telcos so that we can have a smartphone that is below ksh5,000," the President stated while addressing the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KNCCI) Annual General Meeting.

A person using a phone
A person using a phone