Nzioka Waita, Director-Corporate Affairs at Safaricom told the Mobile Web East Africa (MWEA) conference: “Safaricom is soon going to stop selling the cheap feature phones in all our retail outlets, as we try to skew the Kenyan market towards smartphones”.
He added that as much as the company understands the importance of feature phones in the African market, as a leading telecoms provider it took it upon itself to ensure smartphone penetration increases.
“You will now see the feature phones replaced by the cheap smartphones that are now readily available in the country,” he added.
Nzioka explained the move will not only ensure customers get more experience using smartphones, but also increase the market for locally made digital content.
“Developers will now have an increased market to consume the content they produce, thereby developing the local tech scene further,” Waita added.
Africa’s smartphone penetration is still low and mobile operators on the continent have been at the forefront of ensuring they increase the numbers among their subscribers. Safaricom recently launched a low-cost smartphone dubbed Yolo, for its bottom of the pyramid subscribers.
It is estimated Africa currently has a smartphone penetration of between 17 and 19 percent. Some projections are that this will increase to some 40 percent in the next five years.