(VICTORIA RUBADIRI) Global mobile phone supplier Nokia introduced two new entry level phones into the Kenyan market, on Thursday, in efforts to deepen its penetration in the growing dual SIM mobile phone market.
The release of the Nokia 100 and dual SIM Nokia 101, its most affordable mobile phones to date, is part of Nokia’s commitment to connecting the next billion people in emerging markets to the internet.
More than 1.3 billion people use a Nokia mobile phone device; a figure the company hopes to increase by tapping into the vibrant African market.
By 2015 it is estimated that 20 percent of the world’s new mobile phone subscribers will come from the African market.
Speaking during the launch, Executive Vice President of Mobile Phones at Nokia, Mary McDowell, said the new phones are a response to the demand for more versatile mobile phones in Africa.
“We’re really on a roll with dual SIM. These are entry level devices to give consumers who are just starting out in their mobile experience, a modern, capable feature-rich device. Particularly for the youth markets in Africa, it really brings a new level of functionality to this price point,” she said.
The Nokia 100 will retail for about Sh2,800 while the Nokia 101 will start at Sh3,200 according to current exchange rate.
Though fairly new in the Kenyan dual SIM phone market, Nokia had its trial run last year when it introduced its first dual SIM mobile phone, the Nokia C-2, in the global market.
So far the Nokia X1-01 and Nokia C2-00 are currently available in Kenya, with the Nokia 100 now joining the dual SIM fleet, which is Nokia’s fifth dual SIM device in the last three months.
The dual SIM functionality enables users to connect to two different networks to receive calls and messages helping them manage costs and maintain network coverage without needing several phones.
Ms McDowell, who has been visiting with Nokia’s mobile phone leadership team in Africa over the past week, said mobile application (App) development market in the continent has been showing promise.
Last year a Kenyan app developer took the top award at Nokia’s Global Calling all Innovators Contest, a major reason Ms McDowell said Nokia is looking to further the app development sector.
“We have put more people on the ground here in Kenya and more broadly in Africa to work with developers so that we can get those truly relevant applications in content and also improving our tool capabilities,” she said.
To bridge the information gap Nokia also provides Life Tools, a mobile phone service available on the Nokia Series 30 and Series 40 devices.
Designed to inform and improve the livelihoods of consumers in developing countries, Life Tools, provides SMS services in the areas of agriculture, education, healthcare and entertainment.
“In agriculture Life Tools would provide farmers with information about how to successfully raise their crops as well as pricing information so when it comes time to bring their harvest to market they can get a fair price and not get ripped off by the middle man,” Ms McDowell said.
So far Life Tools has been used by 30 million people in China, India, Indonesia and Nigeria.