NAIROBI, October 1- Mobile manufacturing company Nokia has opened a regional research centre in the country to carry out study into its products and services across the continent.,
The centre which will serve the whole of the sub-Saharan region is the first of its kind in the region.
Nokia Research Africa (NoRa) will work with universities and non governmental organisations (NGO) to develop prototypes of devices that are suited for the African market, as well as study the telecommunications services sector on the continent.
Speaking at the launch of NoRa, team leader Jussi Impio noted that mobile communication already plays a significant role in the socio-economic fabric of the region.
“Our focus is on the youth who make up the larger populace of this continent and our research work will enable us to design products and services that are relevant and add value to their lives,” said Impio.
He observed that the first internet experience for most of the population in Africa will be through the mobile phone due to its versatility.
“Why I say this is because the region has features specially unique to it, like low incomes, poor infrastructure, low access to information, and a variety of social problems, most of which can be tackled through the use of mobile phones.
Statistics provided by Nokia’s head office indicates that the company manufactures a million mobile phones handsets everyday.
Impio revealed that the research centre will focus on issues of pricing of mobile phones and the inclusion of features that meets the regions unique needs.
He said the research will also focus on the needs of the populace in the next five years with the view of always being ahead of the emerging needs of the people. Noting that NoRa has carefully selected its partners to ensure that the research methods and resulting technologies are relevant and connect with the communities involved.
“We have chosen to work with NGO’s and institutions of higher learning because these institutions have an understanding and knowledge of the communities. By working with them we can ensure accuracy in our research methods and findings,” he said.
Currently NoRa is already undertaking a study in Huruma, through partnership with slum code programme, aimed at understanding the dynamics of the informal music industry in the urban slum communities.
Other areas the centre is interested in include entrepreneurship, energy management, healthcare, education, transportation, social media, arts and culture.