Jolla announced plans to “build a Sailfish OS ecosystem in Africa”, as part of its strategy to drive growth of the OS across emerging markets.

The company is focusing its efforts on South Africa, creating a consortium (Sailfish Africa) with partner Sello Rathete, one of the co-founders of operator Cell-C. Rathete said in a statement that “I have realised that Sailfish OS is the only existing alternative to build a viable independent mobile ecosystem”.

The main objective of the push is to “gather a group of African investors to develop an independent Sailfish OS-based mobile ecosystem for Africa”. While it starts in South Africa, the aim is to extend this is to enter other regional markets.

The news comes shortly after Sailfish picked-up support from the authorities in Russia, with backing from its telecoms and mass communications ministry for the goal of creating “alternative software products on the base of open operating system and relying on collaboration with BRICS-countries”.

Jolla is looking to offer one mobile platform for all BRICS countries, and create regional solutions by integrating local services.

While the growth of smartphones has created significant opportunities in markets worldwide, there has also been rising concern about the dominance of Google’s Android, particularly in emerging markets, while alternatives such as Mozilla’s Firefox OS have faltered.

“Online and offline businesses are rapidly moving to mobile and it is essential for African economies to start developing their own independent ecosystems for mobile. It does not make sense that all the businesses in mobile are taxed by US companies, and we also need to have a platform where we can freely develop our own solutions for e-commerce, mobile banking and e-learning,” Rathete said.

Antti Saarnio, chairman of Jolla, said: “In addition to South Africa, we are currently building similar initiatives with local partners in India and Russia. We expect to announce further news about the expansion of the ecosystems in the coming weeks.”

While Jolla initially came into the spotlight with its own hardware proposition, the company has explicitly pointed out that its focus is on software.