17 June 2012

Ethiopia: First Smartphone Assembled in Ethiopia Coming to Scene

Tecno Mobile Ethiopia, a subsidiary of the Hong Kong-based mobile manufacturer, is to release its first locally assembled smartphone in mid July for a price possibly between 6,000 Br and 8,000 Br.

The new brand, Tecno T3, supports Google's Android 2.3 a smartphone operating system.

Android is a Linux-based operating system for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. The initial developer of the software, Android Inc, was purchased by Google in 2005.

Most Android devices to date run the older OS version 2.3.x Gingerbread that was released on December 6, 2010, even though the newest OS version, 4.0.x Ice Cream Sandwich was released over six months ago.

Established in 2006, Tecno Telecom Ltd came to Ethiopia five years later in September 2011, with a capital of over one million dollars. Ethiopia was part of its bigger plan to increase its presence in the African market.

Tecno already has several models on the market, all of which support Amharic, Oromiffa, and Tigrigna languages. The new phone will, for the time being, support only Amharic, according to Henry Yu, Tecno's general manager in Ethiopia.

The Amharic application was developed by a local company called Information Technology Transfer Services (ITTS). The software, Amharic Soft Keyboard and Messaging Application, works on all phones supporting Android, according to Ayalew Aseffa, CEO and founder of the company, which was established in 2010/11 with a capital of five million Birr. It supports SMS, email, and other information transferring systems, he says.

The phone also has GPS.

The company is still studying the market to decide on the price of its new release, according to Yu.

Currently, Android smartphones from other makers are sold with prices ranging from 6,000 Br to 15,000 Br. The new samsung Galaxy Nexus 3 reaches 20,000 Br.

Tecno has over 300 employees in its 500sqm office on Gabon Street. One production assembly line requires 35 people at a time. It is now preparing to move to its 1,500sqm new factory located in Gofa Sefer, Nefas Silk Lafto District.

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