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Huawei makes inroads in Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 17- Chinese Technology Giant Huawei says it sold 60,000 units of its Ideos phone the first four months since its introduction into the market, making it the fastest selling smart phone in Kenya today.

Launched into the market in January, the low cost smart phone has eclipsed retail figures held by its bigger rivals.

At a media briefing on Tuesday Huawei Kenya Chief Executive Officer Herman He said the low pricing of the phone as well as user-friendly features have made it a hit with consumers especially in the rural areas.

“We are delighted with the Ideo’s outstanding performance in the Kenyan market and we hereby affirm our commitment to continue providing quality and affordable products to the market,” Mr He told journalists.

With over 80 percent of the internet market accessing the internet through their phones Mr He said this makes Kenya a favourable growth market for the handset maker. 

Huawei has 100,000 new units being shipped into the country, which are exclusively sold through Safaricom’s 35 retail outlets.

Huawei has slowly been gaining market share in the retail segment that had for long been dominated by brands such as Nokia, Motorola and Samsung, firms that are finding it difficult to match the Chinese brands on pricing.

Huawei began positioning itself as a key player in the gadget manufacturing space, riding on key partnerships with mobile service providers such as Safaricom to provide cheaper alternatives to established brands.

Safaricom\’s Head of Retail Morris Maina said the Ideos fits well into the firm’s data growth strategy in the market.

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"As the market space grows increasingly competitive, companies will have to come up with quality products while factoring in the price sensitive market,” Mr Maina said.

With declining Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) on the voice segment following tariff reduction by rivals, Safaricom has shifted focus to data services which have bigger headroom for growth, with a national penetration of less than 10 percent.

Retailing at Sh8,499, inclusive of Sh1,000 airtime and 50 MB data, the Huawei IDEOS U8150 is the cheapest smart phone in the Kenyan market and is expected to deepen the penetration of Internet among the estimated 17 million Safaricom subscribers.

The Ideos runs on Android 2.2 Froyo, the latest version of Google’s operating system.

Ministry of Information and Communication PS Bitange Ndemo said the challenge would now to be develop local content applications that would be relevant for all Kenyans.

“The smart phones have come and we need to be smart with how we use them to create value for Kenyans,” Dr Ndemo said.

Huawei is working with Safaricom to roll out Long Term Evolution (LTE), which Mr He said could be ready by July.

“We are currently doing tests with Safaricom. The only challenge we have at the moment are 4G terminal issues but we see that it will be ready in the next two months,” Mr He said.

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