Romeo Kumalo, chief officer of international business at Vodacom says that, while Vodacom is driving its $50 smartphone in its international markets, a $25 smartphone will truly change the landscape.
“We would see a massive take-up of data,” he noted, adding that most people in Africa would experience the Internet for the first time on their mobile.
Vodacom introduced its Android-based Smart Kicka smartphone in August 2014. At a price point of R549, the device aimed to compete against rival operator MTN’s low-cost smartphone offering – the MTN Steppa – which launched in January at R499.
Both devices form part of the operators’ respective strategies to target the lower-end markets which still favour low-cost feature phones over smarter devices, which are often priced in the thousands of rands.
According to Vodacom’s chief commercial officer Phil Patel, the group’s big strategy and aspiration is to be Africa’s largest Internet provider, targeting 50 million Internet users over the next couple of years.
“At the moment only 27% of people living in South Africa’s emerging markets have access to smart devices. We aim to double that number in the next year,” Patel said at the Kicka’s launch in August.
However, Kumalo believes that there is still room for an even more affordable device in African markets.
“I still think that $50 in some markets is unaffordable. I don’t think the $25 phone is far away,” he said.