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KaiOS Technology In Partnership With Econet Launch Zimbabwe’s First 3G Smart Feature Phone

Econet launches the first low-cost KaiOS-enabled 3G phone in Zimbabwe [Photo/Courtesy]

KaiOS Technologies, in partnership with Econet Wireless have launched the Atom 3G phone in Zimbabwe. It is said to be the first 3G feature smart phone in the country.

Announcing the launch, Econet revealed that the phone will be bundled with a 3-month data package offering customers 6GB of data for every purchase. The phone will retail at half of the average price of Android phones in the market, making it one of the most affordable devices in Zimbabwe.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made life difficult for people in Zimbabwe. We want to help them get online, communicate with their loved ones locally and abroad via WhatsApp, Sasai or regular cellular voice calls. We also want our customers to access valuable content at this time, such as medical tips and advice,” Econet Chief Operating Officer, Navdeep Kapur, said.

Kapur also said that the Atom 3G phone, which supports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS is available for purchase from Econet retail shops and other distribution agents across the country.

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“The phone has a 2.4-inch display, 512MB of storage and supports a microSD card. It also comes with a powerful 1,500mAh battery that enables long and extended hours of talk time. Atom 3G is priced at a level that is affordable for the millions of Zimbabweans who may not have the resources for a traditional smartphone, and we have included three months of free data as well to onboard new users and help them to access the mobile internet.”

He also said that the phone has a long battery life that can last up to 48 hours for an average user. This is a critical feature for Zimbabwe’s informal sector as citizens are encouraged to embrace digitalization.

The launch of the Atom 3G is a step towards full digital inclusion in Zimbabwe. According to the first-quarter sector performance report for 2020 from the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), industry figures show that mobile data penetration is currently at 59.1%. The report also revealed that 40.5% of the total mobile internet and data usage in the country is attributed to WhatsApp.

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The current penetration level statistics present a 40.9 per cent gap of the population that is yet to be digitally included. Key barriers to internet access in Zimbabwe and other African countries are device & data affordability as well as digital literacy. Smart feature phones running on KaiOS have been developed with the aim of addressing these concerns.

“With access to the soon-available SASAI all-in-one App, which includes the popular SASAI Health Status Report, the device is set to help individuals, families, employees, employers, policymakers and others manage and mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic,” Kapur added.

The Atom 3G phone supports Google Assistant, which can aid the less digitally literate users to easily interact with the device using voice commands. Other essential apps supported include Facebook, YouTube, Google Maps, and an in-house App called Life, which offers digital skills training and other educational material.

These are available on the phone from the KaiStore, which has about 600 other data-lite apps.

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Written by Vanessa Murrey

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