Microsoft, Huawei target Africans with 4Afrika smartphone
By Gareth van Zyl
Global software maker Microsoft and Chinese telecommunications equipment company Huawei are today launching a Windows Phone 8 smartphone targeted at the African market.
The ‘low-cost’ device, dubbed Huawei 4Afrika, is to be unveiled at events in Johannesburg, Abidjan, Lagos, Nairobi and Cairo today.
Meanwhile, the device, which comes preloaded with selected applications ‘designed for Africa’, is planned to available at a launch in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt, Angola and Côte d’Ivoire.
The launch forms part of Microsoft’s 4Afrika Initiative, a programme planned at getting ‘millions’ of Windows Phone-based smart devices in the hands of young Africans.
The Huawei phone will be targeted at university students, developers and first-time smartphone users, Microsoft says in a statement published on its website.
In terms of its features, the Huawei 4Afrika is a customised version of the HUAWEI Ascend W1, launched earlier this year at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show. The smartphone is 10.15 mm thin and features a 4-inch IPS LCD 480 x 800 touchscreen with Zero-Gap Touch technology. With a 1730 mAh Li-Polymer battery and unique power saving technology, the Huawei 4Afrika phone provides up to 420 Hours of standby time and up to 560 minutes of talk time on 3G, according to Huawei.
It is powered by the high-end Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8230 dual-core 1.2 GHz processor and Adreno 305 GPU. Additionally, the phone includes a 5 MP Auto-Focus Camera and VGA Front Camera, and comes in an array of colours; including blue, black and white initially and red to follow in the next couple of months.
Upskilling, providing faster internet, support for SMEs and an AppFactory
The 4Afrika Initiative further plans to bring a million African small and medium-sized enterprises online, train 100 000 skills, and help an additional 100 000 recent graduates develop “employability skills”.
75% of graduates trained are planned to be placed in jobs by Microsoft.
And the software giant has announced a pilot project with internet service provider Indigo Telecom to deliver ‘low-cost, high-speed’ wireless broadband in Kenya.
The plan involves the use of solar-powered base stations and television white-spaces spectrum.
A similar spectrum project could be unveiled in the rest of East Africa and Southern Africa in coming months, says Microsoft.
“These pilots will be used to encourage other African countries to accelerate legislation that will allow this TV white-space technology to deliver on the promise of universal access for Africa,” Microsoft says in a statement.
In addtion, Microsoft is to launch its ‘SME Online Hub’, which will first be available in South Africa and Morocco on the continent.
Free Microsoft products and services are to become available to small and medium enterprises on the continent via this hub. Microsoft says it further plans to offer free domain registration for a year. Tools to help build websites are also set to become available for free from Microsoft.
To cap it off, the software giant is to also launch its ‘AppFactory’, which lets the public submit requests for Africa-relevant Windows Phone and Windows applications. These requests will be put to a public vote and the most popular ideas will be assigned development resources.
Centres for this cause are to be unveiled in South Africa and Egypt.