Orange is democratizing access to the Internet in Africa with a blizzard of products. The latest one is the launch of an affordable 3G smart phone with voice recognition.
From April 2019, Orange customers in Mali, Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire will have access to a new category of smart phones powered by KaiOS, the operating system from KaiOS Technologies. And that’s in less than two months.
The other 12 countries in Africa, including Botswana, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Liberia, Madagascar, Morocco, Sierra Leone and Tunisia, will have access to the $20 smart phone later on in the year, Orange announced in a statement to TODAY NEWS AFRICA in Washington D.C. on Monday.
Apart from the 15 countries in Africa, Sanza would also be available to some countries in the Middle East, including Jordan.
Orange is not doing this alone. It’s all a partnership between Orange, KaiOS Technologies and UNISOC.
Sanza will be commercialized with a dedicated offer – (voice/text/data) – starting around $20. This is expected to help African customers optimize their budget.
Let’s talk about the phone itself
Sanza has the simplicity of a feature phone powered by the UNISOC SC7731EF chipset platform with a long-lasting battery life up to 5 days, 3G+, Torch, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, combined with advanced smartphone-like functionalities.
Advanced functionalities for Africans
Thanks to the Google Assistant, Sanza will help overcome language and literacy challenges, as customers can access information and applications on the device easily, just with their voice, and without having to type.
The Google Assistant understands multiple French and English accents, with more languages to come later this year.
This is good news as the phone menu is available in Arabic, Swahili, Portuguese, English and French.
This new phone will also give access to applications such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google Search and Google Maps, as well as Orange Money, the flagship mobile-based money transfer and financial services offer and My Orange, the application to monitor your mobile consumption, among other things.
“Sanza is a concrete proof of the capacity of Orange to be a key player of digital inclusion in Africa and the Middle-East,” says Alioune Ndiaye, CEO of Orange Middle East and Africa.
“With its access to internet with the voice and its attractive price around US $20, I have the conviction that this 3G phone and soon 4G, is a powerful lever to develop the access to internet for all in Africa”.
A similar sentiment is shared by Gérard Lokossou, CEO of Orange Democratic Republic of Congo.
“The Smartphone penetration rate in DRC is quite low, 30 per cent versus the average of 50 per cent for the Continent,” he says.
“The established mobile payment services via Orange Money, the launch of 4G+ in 2018 and our engagement to extend 3G coverage to the whole country are all contributing to boost the smartphone penetration rate in DRC. The next commercialisation of the Sanza phone at an affordable price demonstrates our strategy for the democratisation of Internet access in the country.”
According to Sebastien Codeville, CEO of KaiOS Technologies, “Our mission is to help close the digital divide by bringing mobile connectivity to the billions of people without internet in emerging markets, as well as providing those in established markets with an alternative to smartphones”.
To him, “the Sanza by Orange marks an important milestone in fulfilling this mission, as its bound to be successful in Africa with its attractive price point, great features, and the strong presence of Orange in the region.”
Orange is present in 20 countries in Africa and the Middle-East and has 120 million customers. With five billion euros of revenues in 2017, this zone is a strategic priority for the Group.
Orange Money, its flagship mobile-based money transfer and financial services offer is available in 17 countries and has 40 million customers. Orange, a multi-services operator and key partner of the digital transformation provides its expertise to support the development of new digital services in Africa and the Middle-East.
I was born in a small village in Cameroon, groomed in Nigeria’s most populous city of Lagos, and moved to Washington D.C. to practice journalism at a global level. From here in the American capital, I ask big questions to leaders around the world, and focus on business, investment and politics in Africa. Back in Africa while doing my job, I was kidnapped, dumped in the woods and left for dead but survived, only to be attacked at gunpoint by sea pirates, arrested by security forces and falsely accused of being a spy for terrorists. As the publisher of TODAY NEWS AFRICA, I do not have the budget of Fox News, CNN or Amazon. I raise money through donations on patreon.com/todaynewsafrica.