Mobiles made in Africa

 Mint Electronics a subsidiary of the South African company Sekoko Holdings, which has recently taken a 75% share in CZ Electronics, is due to launch the first ever line of South African-made smartphones and tablets. CZ Electronics has spent the last two years working on the line, and invested around R10m ($944,000) on research and development for the range.

The firm hopes to capitalise on the huge untapped market for smartphones—with just 18% of South Africans owning one — with price being a major barrier. The smartphones will retail at between R600 to R1,499 ($57 to $142) and there will be both seven- and 10-inch screen versions of the tablets.

This is compared with the iPhone range, which typically cost $1,000 without a contract and the Samsung Galaxy, which retails at around $800. .

"The smartphones and tablets will be sold through major retailers, operator stores and our branded shops. The branded shops will launch in all major malls by the end of 2014," according to Sagran Pillay, the CEO of CZ Electronics. .

CZ Electronics ultimately aims to set up manufacturing arms in African countries and sell the phones across the region. The ambitious company has a formidable task on its hands if its range is to make an impact on the market. In order for the smartphone range to succeed it will need to have the same or superior specifications to international brands at the same time as being cheaper. .

It is not the first time that there has been talk of African-made low-cost smartphones and tablets. In 2011, during an Africa Web Summit in Brazzaville, the Republic of Congo, the CEO of VMK, Verone Mankou, launched the Tablet Way-C..

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