South Africans Set To Manufacture Smartphones and Tablets locally

Lehlokoe with Seemahale’s 10-inch tablet

Lehlokoe with Seemahale’s 10-inch tablet
Lehlokoe with Seemahale’s 10-inch tablet

South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria are the leading markets in Africa’s growing mobile market. According to a recent Ericsson report, consumers from both these markets are relatively price-sensitive due to varying socioeconomic factors. And despite the rise in smartphones, there is still a high dependency on basic and feature phones.

This demand for low-cost devices has driven manufacturers to create good quality devices specifically targeting emerging markets. Locally designed mobile devices have also been created for the African market although these tend to be manufactured in China.

Nigeria’s Phone and Allied Product Dealer Association (PAPDAN) is one of the companies that believes mobile devices can be created on the continent. Currently in their pipeline are the iQ and MaxTel devices which target their Nigerian market. However the device specifications are yet to be disclosed.

In October 2013, Seemahale Telecoms and CZ Electronics from South Africa announced their intent to create and distribute mobile devices. Now Seemahale is promising that the first batch of these devices may reach the market by the end of January.

Seemahale Telecoms deals in broadcst and telecommunications infrastructure, its expansion into the smartphone market comes after it acquired a South-African based equipment manufacturing plant from Alcatel-Lucent. CEO Thabo Lehlokoe says the plant can produce between 100,000 and 150,000 devices per month.

Seemahale's 5-inch smartphone (image: Seemahale)
Seemahale’s 5-inch smartphone (image: Seemahale)

The CEO anticipates the creation of between 50 and 100 jobs from the device manufacturing operation. According to his estimates, a minimum of 5,000 devices will be created every month. Only the printed circuit boards will be imported for the operation with the rest of the component assembly taking place in South Africa.

Two devices, a 10.1″ tablet and 5″ smartphone have already been “type approved” by the SA telecom regulator, ICASA, and will be the first to hit the market. Specs for the devices planned are below:

5″ smartphone: 960×540 pixels LCD capacitative touch screen, 4GB flash storage, dual core 1.5GHz processor, microSD slot upto 32GB, FM Radio, Bluetooth, GPS, EDGE and 3G connectivity upto 21 Mbps, 2250 mAh battery, double-SIM cost R2500
4″ version: 800×480 pixels, 4GB storage, 5MP rear-camera, EDGE and 3G connectivity, 1500 or 1700 mAh battery, 1GB memory, double-SIM, cost R1200
10.1 inch tablet: 1280×800 pixels, mini HDMI port, Wi-Fi, GPS, 3G, front and rear-facing cameras, SIM slot, 8600 mAh battery, cost R3500
7.8 inch tablet: 1024×768 pixels, front and rear-facing cameras, WiFi, 3G, GPS, 5000 mAh battery, cost R3000

The devices will run Android 4.3

“We are very aggressive because we want uptake in the market. We didn’t skimp on the specs. For the price, it will be one of the better devices out there. We want to encourage people, to make it affordable.” – Seemahale CEO, Thabo Lehlokoe.