Why Intel chose Nairobi as Africa launch for YOLO smart phone



Microchip manufacturer Intel has partnered with Safaricom to launch the first Intel powered smartphone for Africa. YOLO is based on Intel’s latest smartphone platform for emerging markets, launched earlier this month at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

Running on Android OS, the phone targets the growing young population in emerging markets that is cost-conscious but also keen on device performance especially in multi-functions like messaging, multimedia and connectivity. The YOLO smartphone will be sold in Safaricom shops countrywide at the entry price of Kshs10,999 and comes bundled with free 500 MB data.

Intel chose Kenya as the launching pad of the YOLO phone for Africa and also Middle-East in a move that could cement Kenya’s leading position in the continent and beyond. Top international tech magazines picked the story including Techcrunch, Engadget and the Verge.

The biggest contributing factor to Intel’s decision to launch in Nairobi is the strategic partnership with Safaricom. The phone will exclusively be sold in Safaricom shops which are spread across the country. This partnership takes care of the distribution and marketing bottlenecks most vendors face especially at the entry level.

Intel’s approach of working with Safaricom and other mobile service providers was revealed by Intel’s Mobile and Communications VP Mike Bell at CES that Safaricom would release smartphones based on the company’s value-oriented smartphone reference design.

Apart from the affordable cost, the 500 MB free data is a deal sweetener for the thousands of Kenyans that walk into Safaricom shops every day.

Aysegul Ildeniz, Intel GM for Middle East, Turkey and Africa said the East Africa region is one of the fastest growing regions in mobile telephony.

“We are pleased to have established a strong relationship with Safaricom in Kenya, a nation where smartphone usage is increasing and mobile penetration is high. There is also high utility of mobile phones for multiple reasons such as mobile banking, internet usage, radio etc,” said Intel’s statement.

Huawei’s previous good run on the Ideos phone may also have emboldened Intel to launch a similar smart phone in Kenya, with plans to spread to other African countries.

YOLO Specs

Android 4.0

Supports HPA+ network connectivity

3.5 inch display

5 – megapixel shooter capable of shooting 1080 HD video

1.2GHz processor and 512MB Memory size

Internal storage of 4GB and MicroSD card slot (internal)



  • Kenya is indeed proving to be the next top Tech Hub in Africa. This should be good news to all techies and entrepreneurs.

  • I read an online comment from a post somewhere in Texas US, that ” why kenya? I dont know about there needs but i sure know they wont identify with such specs” What! my jaws dropped! as blatant as that, you can imagine meeting such on a dark alley somewhere in Dallas!!

    • Many regions in the supposed developed world are genuinely surprised by some of these news pieces. When Safaricom launched their 3G a guy from the UK was complaining that he didn’t even have 3G in his rural area and yet here was a 3rd world country getting latest tech

  • Marv

    Hey, do you have any idea when the yolo will be back in our safaricom stores?

    • jay jay

      Yea the handsets are out of stock and are expected in the country at the end of this month . or early april

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