Africa is considered one of the fastest growing markets for smartphones globally, growing 43 per cent in sales per annum in the last 13 years, according to a report by the London-based mobile operator GSM Association.
In the sub-Saharan region alone, ten per cent of the 445 million handset users own smartphones, and this is forecasted to increase quickly in the next few years as telecommunication operators expand their high-speed networks. Microsoft has allied with China’s Huawei to sell an affordable handset powered by Windows in Africa, said the New York Times. The phone, known as the Huawei 4Afrika Windows Phone, is priced at US$150 and will be initially sold across seven countries: Kenya, Egypt, Nigeria, Angola, Morocco, Ivory Coast and South Africa.
Analysts believe a collaboration between Huawei and Microsoft is a good idea, as both are small players in the global smartphone market. Moreover, Africa is one of Huawei’s best markets outside of China, according to Pete Cunningham, an analyst at UK-based firm Canalys.
Microsoft’s partnership with Huawei, a leading manufacturer of mobile networking equipment for African telcos, does not infringe on Microsoft’s existing agreement with Nokia, which is betting on the Windows mobile OS to return it to profitability. In fact, Nokia and Microsoft are poised to unveil two new Windows phones in Africa over the next few months, according to Fernando de Sousa, General Manager for Microsoft Africa.