Kenya’s government opened a local smartphone assembly plant in collaboration with a group of operators including Safaricom, launching a pair of affordable 4G handsets to boost uptake of the network technology in the country. 

Safaricom stated the smartphones will be available nationwide with a price tag starting at KES7,499 ($50) and it plans to launch other handsets including tablets in the next few months.

News of the assembly plant was first announced in May, though at the time Kenyan authorities did not provide details on handset models and the companies involved.

Local newspaper Business Daily Africa reported the launch date, which was scheduled for between July and August, was delayed.

The factory, located in the town of Athi River, is expected to manufacture up to 3 million units of smartphones annually and generate up to 500 direct jobs. 

Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa said the factory’s launch reaffirmed its belief “in the power of connectivity to transform lives and drive economic progress”, adding the collaboration with other local operators solidified its efforts to extend access to 4G and improve employment opportunities. 

In a separate, related, statement, the Kenyan authorities cited low-cost smart devices will increase access to digital services and therefore encourage digital transformation.