News / Science & Technology

South Africa's First Smartphone to Hit Shelves in 2014

A woman, draped in a cloth with an image of former South African President Nelson Mandela, uses a mobile phone during Mandela's funeral at his ancestral village of Qunu in Eastern Cape province, south of Johannesburg, Dec. 15, 2013.A woman, draped in a cloth with an image of former South African President Nelson Mandela, uses a mobile phone during Mandela's funeral at his ancestral village of Qunu in Eastern Cape province, south of Johannesburg, Dec. 15, 2013.
x
A woman, draped in a cloth with an image of former South African President Nelson Mandela, uses a mobile phone during Mandela's funeral at his ancestral village of Qunu in Eastern Cape province, south of Johannesburg, Dec. 15, 2013.
A woman, draped in a cloth with an image of former South African President Nelson Mandela, uses a mobile phone during Mandela's funeral at his ancestral village of Qunu in Eastern Cape province, south of Johannesburg, Dec. 15, 2013.
Smartphones are growing in popularity in South Africa, but their expense and the cost of contracts have meant only a fraction of the population can afford them.

One South African plans to change that by introducing the first indigenously designed and manufactured smart phone, aimed at attracting lower middle class consumers.

South Africans love their mobile phones. According to a recent Afrobarometer report, 93 percent of South Africans have one.

But 80 percent of these phones are feature phones, simple handsets with a number keypad, which can be used to dial numbers and send text messages.

Dr. Thabo Lehlokoe wants to change that.

Early in 2014, his company, Seemahale Telecoms, in partnership with manufacturer CZ Electronics, is bringing a new smartphone to South Africans that will retail at around $230.
 
"There's a lot of people that are currently on feature phones, but would love to have a smartphone but can't afford to have one on the current pricing. We then noticed that there is actually a band, a niche band that we can come in and support," Lehlokoe said.
 
Apple's iPhone will cost a consumer about $1,000, without a two-year contract that would typically lower the phone's price. A buyer will pay about $800, without a contract, for a Samsung Galaxy.

Consumers like Terrence Mathoma say it is expensive, but South Africans - who can afford it - are tempted by high-end brands.

"For R2500, well the phone has to appeal to a lot of people for us to buy it…..
My phone, I had to take it out on contract because they wanted something like R8,000 up front, and then you look at taking it out on contract, you look at the packages which they give you," he said. "It weighs out it being better to take it out on contract. As opposed to having R8,000 up front. That's a lot of money."

Locking into a contract can also be expensive, as phone minutes and data plans are costly. For $47 a month, one iPhone contract buys you 75 minutes per month and 200 megabytes of data.

For most lower income South Africans, a contract is not in the cards. Instead, they just buy pre-paid minutes.  And that is where Lehlokoe is aiming his new phone.

"The idea was that we were trying to make this thing relevant for our market," he said.
 
He is hoping the price - at just $238 - and the fact that the phone is designed and manufactured in South Africa, will be selling points.

"There’s a lot of people that actually appreciate the fact that when these phones are manufactured here. We are going to be creating a lot of jobs locally - that on its own is a serious value add that the other guys cannot provide," he said.

The phone will be manufactured in Midrand, a suburb north of Johannesburg, and the factory should employ a couple of hundred people to start.  

Lehlokoe hopes the phone will bring more South Africans online - in a country where two-thirds of adults have never used the internet.

Tshepang Makofane, a smartphone owner, said he would like to see more opportunities for the poor to access information.

"Smartphone penetration in South Africa is really huge. I'm more interested in the low end, the people in the low end LSM getting access to all this technology. I think it's like a great opportunity for them to come on board as well," said Makofane.
 
Dr. Thabo Lehlokoe is hoping consumers in that market feel the same way.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid