In what can be taken as a sign Africa is not going to be left behind in the tech-revolution sweeping across the world, Elikia, the Congolese made smartphone has been launched. In the smartphone world, differenciation is gold dust and ordinarily this device would not get more than a cursory glance from sophisticated smartphone users because on technical specification, there’s little to distinguish Elikia from the plethora of other Android devices.
But Elikia is however not an ordinary smartphone. It rises above its mundane contemporaries via a “designed in Africa” label. Suddenly, it’s not just another Android device but one made in Africa.
The 3G device is an entry level smartphone packed with many features. It has a 5MP Camera and front facing VGA camera. It supports WIFI connectivity and can be a hotspot. It has a 512Mb of RAM and a micro SD slot to expand the 126MB internal memory to 32 Gb. The device sports a capacitive mutitouch screen (QVGA 320×480) and runs Android Gingerbread on a 650MHz processor.
Elikia is made by VMK, an SME based in Congo and founded by Verone Mankou whose vision is to make the smart devices technology sweeping across the world affordable to Africans. A year ago, the company launched an African tablet, Way-C which has been sold predominantly in Congo but is also now being made available to the rest of Africa.
While analysts look keenly on the revenues making up the top most numbers from VMK, they’ll no doubt be keeping even keener eyes on their bottom-line numbers. A 300 USD Way-C and a 170 USD Elikia may seem cheap by western standards but they are still a bit of a stretch to most Africans on Main street.
It is conceivable Mr. Mankou would realise his vision of bringing affordable African designed devices to the African market, if VMK is able to streamline its processes and fast-ride down the experience curve to take its current price points even lower.
Notwithstanding, cynics have been eager to peel away the African branding and to point out VMK’s close Chinese collaboration as their basis to deny the claims of an African design. But those who can cast their minds back to the early Taiwan, know it’s undeniable that Veron Mankou and others of his ilk are clearly charting the way of the future.