4Afrika Initiative to Democratize Smartphones in Africa
The Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative, a region-specific program aimed at improving Africa’s global competitiveness was announced on 4th February. By 2016, the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative intends to provide affordable connected mobile devices like smartphones to African youths. Euromonitor International forecasts that smartphone will make up almost two thirds of the expected 194 million mobile phones sold in Africa in 2016. The first step is a Windows Phone 8 smartphone manufactured by Huawei Technologies Co that is preloaded with specific apps for the region. Microsoft’s choice of Huawei as a partner in this initiative over its strategic partner Nokia is the most telling part of the announcement. Chinese companies have been heeding the call of the state government to “Go Global” and companies’ investments overseas is set to see explosive growth in the next decade. This also means that China will be looking to saturate the continent with its home-grown telecom standards like TD-LTE to ensure domestic companies and technologies have a competitive edge in the market. Nokia’s success in India is a timely reminder that the former mobile phone giant retains its immerse know-how of consumers in emerging market. However, the company is in the midst of transformation and its immediate focus is on profit margins in developed markets like Western Europe. Microsoft Corp looks to expand the global install base of its Windows Phone 8 platform with high quality yet low-cost smartphones as alternatives to the flood of low-cost Android phones dominating smartphone volume sales in the region.