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First smartphone and tablet designs from Africa are launched

Caroline Baldwin

A touchpad tablet and a smartphone have been launched by the Congolese company, VMK, and claim to be the first African designs on the market.

The Way-C touchpad and Elikia smartphone, which are manufactured in China, were designed by the company’s founder, Verone Mankou, and will cost $300 (£185) and $170 (£105) respectively.

Both devices will run Google’s operating system, Android, and are marketed as “entry-level” devices for consumers.

According to the BBC, the company intends to sell the devices in its native country, Congo, as well as 10 other West African countries, however, the company will face competition from smartphone makers, RIM and Nokia, both of which are popular on the continent.  

The devices will also become available in Belgium, France and India in the New Year.

VMK claims that its goal is “to give the general public access to technology at an affordable price,” with Africa at the centre of its strategies.

The company decided in 2006 to set up an inexpensive computer to “give most Africans access to technology and the internet,” this project is still on going, however, the company is aiming to launch a $50 tablet for students in the middle of 2013.

The Elikia smartphone, which means ‘hope’,  features a 3.5-inch IPS screen and will include WiFi and GPS connectivity.

The Way-C tablet, which means ‘the light of the stars’, features a 7-inch 800x480 resolution touchscreen, and will run on Android’s Gingerbread system with a 1.2 GHz CPU, while providing the user with up to six hours of battery life.


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