Safaricom has launched an affordable 4G enabled smartphone in partnership with Google. The device is called the Neon Ray Pro and retails for KES5 000.00 (around US$46.43). But with this program dubbed “Lipa Mdogo Mdogo” individuals will deposit KES1 000.00 (around US$9.29) and then pay KES 20.00 per day (US$0.19) to make up the balance.
“We are delighted today to launch this product in line with our pillar of customer-centricity. Today, everyone is going through tough economic times. This product comes as a testament to our commitment to our purpose of transforming lives. Smartphones in the hands of our customers, possess life-transforming possibilities. They open a new world. We aim to take that world into the hands of every consumer through affordable means”Peter Ndegwa, Safaricom CEO
This initiative dates back to May last year when Safaricom said it will double its 4G base stations to 5000 by March of this year. This would cover all of Kenya’s major towns and 80% of the Kenyan population. The expansion was aimed at increasing 4G adoption across Kenya.
“Android’s goal has always been to bring the power of computing to everyone. Access to the opportunities the internet offers is critical for any nations’ economic growth & social inclusion. We believe that this collaboration will bring more Kenyans online and help them take advantage of the opportunities that exist online,”Mariam Abdullahi, Director, Android and Platforms Partnerships for Africa
With the launch of this device it means at the very least the barrier to entry for 4G enabled devices has been lowered significantly. Safaricom say that this launch is meant to empower 2G users to upgrade and enjoy high speed internet connectivity
To participate Safaricom requires individuals to be between the ages of 18-75, to have had a history with Safaricom for at least a year, the eligibility of the plan for the device will depend on customer credit score.
I really like this program, this is an out-of-the-box way of thinking to improve the reach of 4G services. The internet is an underutilized tool in Africa, this at least lowers the threshold for devices.
If this was introduced in Zimbabwe at the same price point, it would be around the same price as a 3-minute call but that would be going to purchase a device. I am sure there are a lot of people in Zim who would take an offer like that.
It’s however unlikely that we will see something like this in Zimbabwe anytime soon. Our situation and Kenya’s differ in a number of respects but then again who knows what the future holds.