Smartphones will get cheaper in Kenya, predicts player

Qualcomm Business Director Billy Owino is predicting that the cheapest smarphone in Kenya could cost as low as Sh4,000 by next year driven mainly by competition among manufacturers/FILE

Qualcomm Business Director Billy Owino is predicting that the cheapest smarphone in Kenya could cost as low as Sh4,000 by next year driven mainly by competition among manufacturers/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 19 – Mobile applications developer Qualcomm Technologies says rising competition for the smartphone market in Kenya is going to lead to a sharp reduction of the devices locally.

Qualcomm Business Director Billy Owino is predicting that the cheapest smarphone in Kenya could cost as low as Sh4,000 by next year driven mainly by competition among manufacturers.

He however echoed calls by the manufacturers for the government to reconsider the planned introduction of 16 percent VAT on mobile handsets, saying it could slow down the impressive market penetration.

“We need to have the device prices coming down. That is something the industry has to push. About two years ago we had the cheapest smart phone going for Sh8, 000. Now it has dropped to around Sh5, 000 and the statistics shows that this is coming down pretty well,” Owino noted.

On Sunday several mobile manufacturers in the local market, lamented that if the VAT Bill was assented to by President Uhuru Kenyatta it would increase the cost of mobile phones by 16 percent.

Samsung, Intel, Nokia, Huawei, Microsoft and iHub argued that the 2009 VAT exemption on mobile devices increased subscriber penetration and drove down the cost of ownership so that more Kenyans could benefit from mobile technology.

Echoing their sentiments, Owino however said competition would control exaggerated prices and allow Kenyans to continue being able to afford the handsets.

“I feel this was not the right time to start discussing how to introduce any taxes. The sector is at a high growth rate and this is not the time to disrupt this. But we hope for the best,” he pointed out.

Meanwhile he urged the smart phone manufacturers to now focus on coming up with stronger batteries adding that this remains a biggest challenge to smarphone users due to many applications on the phones.

About the author
MARGARET WAHITO

Margaret has been a business reporter for the past three years. She is currently pursuing a degree in Communications and Public Relations at Moi University. She holds a diploma in film and video production from the Kenya institute of Mass Communications. Apart from journalism, she has interest in community work, especially helping the disadvantaged.