Thursday, December 27, 2012

VMK released first African designed smartphone Elikia

A Congolese gadget designer VMK released Africa's first smartphone 'Elikia' Thursday. The phone made in China has started selling in Congo at a price of $171 (XOF 85,000). The phone is already being distributed by Airtel and Warid, two telecom operators in the country.
It features a 3.5-in QVGA display and a 650MHz processor with 512MB of RAM, and runs Android 2.3.6. The China-manufactured Elikia also comes with a 5 megapixel camera, VGA front-facing camera, 2G/3G connectivity, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Verone Mankou with Elikia. Elikia in congolese diaclet means Hope
VMK is owned by 26-year-old Congolese entrepreneur Verone Mankou. Like Apple, VMK has had to answer for manufacturing its products in China, a country with a higher per-capita GDP than the Congo.

Earlier this year Mankou told the AFP that VMK wanted to keep as much of the phone African as possible, but decided to manufacture it in China “for the simple reason that Congo has no factories and for price reasons.”

Speaking at the third annual Tech4Africa conference in Johannesburg last month, Mankou touched on the difficulties of running VMK from Congo. He also stressed, despite the hurdles, why he thought it was important for an African company to invest in the local smartphone and tablet markets. “Only Africans can know what Africa needs,” he said.

“Apple is huge in the U.S., Samsung is huge in Asia, and we want VMK to be huge in Africa.”

VMK has also developed the Way-C, a 7-in Android tablet, selling for $300 (XOF 150,000). It is built around a 1.2GHz processor with 512MB of RAM, and offers 4GB of ROM, expandable to 32GB with a microSDHC card. It connects to ther internet over Wi-Fi.


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