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

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim 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.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid