MTN unveils smart feature phone rollout plans

Left Huidi Li, Executive Vice President at China Mobile and Rob Shutter, MTN Group Chief Executive Officer at the press event in Cape Town on Tuesday. Photo by Mthulisi Sibanda, CAJ News

from MTHULISI SIBANDA in Cape Town, South Africa
– MOBILE network operator, MTN, has announced plans to introduce a “smart feature phone” in its African markets next year, in line with strategies to bridge the mobile internet access divide.

The plans, announced in partnership with China Mobile and Unisoc among others, have been unveiled at the AfricaCom summit in Cape Town.

Set to run the KaiOs operating system, the yet-to-be-named 3G MTN-branded device is set for introduction in the first quarter of 2019, at a retail price of US$20 (about R288).

KaiOS is a Linux-based mobile operating system that debuted in 2017, developed by KaiOS Technologies Inc. in San Diego.

According to its developers, the system “merges the power of a smartphone with the affordability of a feature phone”.

The MTN Group is planning to roll out 10 million devices in three years.

Rob Shutter, MTN Group Chief Executive Officer, said the move was in line with the mobile operator’s CHASE strategy, whose pillars includes improving coverage, making affordable handsets available, affordability of data services as well as bundling services and enhancing digital literacy.

“It will be a wonderful bridge device to bring people into the smartphone world,” Shutter said at the announcement in Cape Town.

Among other features, he disclosed are a selfie camera and a 2000mAh battery. It will come pre-loaded with the Mobile Money app.

Huidi Li, Executive Vice President at China Mobile, said, “The partnership with MTN is symbolic of the friendship between Africa and China.”

– CAJ News

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