MTN has announced plans to launch a $20 smartphone across Africa to provide low-cost mobile internet access to young Africans.
MTN's Group President and CEO Rob Shuter showcased the new smartphone, designed by South African Company Mobicel, at MTN's recent half-year results presentation in Johannesburg. Shuter told Connecting Africa that MTN plans to roll out the device across most of its portfolio by the end of the year.
Affordability has been a barrier when it comes to Africans getting 3G or 4G devices that can access the Internet.
Shuter said that the cheapest smartphones in most of Africa's markets at the moment cost approximately $40, so the $20 Mobicel device is unheard of. He confirmed that the phone is now on trial to make sure that everything works before the launch.
Currently, the cheapest phone being advertised on Mobicel's website retails at R899 ($59).
MTN's CEO said that the smartphone looks like the basic phones from the past; therefore, it will be familiar to entry-level customers and they will more easily move into the data world through the smartphone's Internet.
Shuter said that the group is trying to ensure sure that the new phone is well tested before launching because he admitted that there is high risk on these devices to provide a bad first-time experience, and then MTN would lose the customers who would bounce off and go back to their old feature phones.