Kenya reportedly pushed ahead with a plan to roll out 1 million units of locally-assembled smartphones, under a broader aim to make devices more accessible and accelerate digital inclusion.

Local news outlet Business Daily Africa reported ICT Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo said the country has started producing low-cost smartphones, which will retail for $40 and are set for commercial launch in July.

The outlet stated Owalo identified the lack of affordable smartphones as a “major hindrance” to digital inclusion and has previously prevented citizens from tapping into the full potential of the mobile sector. This led to the overall low uptake of smartphones and other digital services, Owalo added.

Kenya’s government reportedly worked with local private sectors and manufacturers for the assembly, though no details regarding the involved parties and smartphone prototypes were provided.

GSMA Intelligence research in 2022 indicated Kenya’s smartphone adoption ranked as the lowest among six mobile markets in Sub-Saharan Africa, including Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Ethiopia and South Africa.