Kenya Opens First Smartphone Factory

A JV between local telcos Safaricom and Jamii Telecom with the Chinese firm Shenzhen TeleOne Technology, the East Africa Device Assembly Kenya (EADAK) Limited will assemble smartphones in its factory at Athi River, Machakos. The locally made smartphones would provide a better price-to-performance ratio compared to imported ones.

“This assembly plant will support the government’s agenda to enhance digital inclusion in the country. We have been able to achieve affordability through a collaborative approach that comprises industry partnership and favorable government policies.”

EADAK and Maii Telecom Chair Joshua Chepkwony

In May 2023, an announcement was made that the locally produced phones would retail at a starting price of around USD 40 (KSH 5,500), but eventually the launch price has been adjusted to just under USD 50 (KSH 7.499). The phones will be sold at Safaricom shops, Faibo shops and other dealer stores. The product can also be ordered on the web via the Masoko online store.

Neon Smarta 5″ and Neon Ultra 6.5″

The base model is a Neon Smarta 5″ which a premium model Neon Ultra 6.5” is also available at a higher price of KSH 8,999. Both models are 4G-enabled phone and do not support the latest 5G, but both models allow for dual SIMs. In the future, EADAK plans to add mobile tablets to its product catalog.

“The launch of EADAK reaffirms our belief in the power of connectivity to transform lives and drive economic progress. This partnership underscores our relentless pursuit to expand 4G access and empower Kenyans through affordable, high-quality smartphones, create employment opportunities, and grow our economy.”

Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa

The new plant will initially employ 300 people but plan to expand to 500 in the near future as production capacity ramps up from 1 million units to 1.4 million annually.

On Monday 30 October 2023, Kenyan President William Ruto visited the factory and participated in the official product launch ceremony. The smartphone comes pre-loaded with the Gava Mkononi app which is the Kenya eCitizen portal as part of the push towards #digitalization. President Ruto stressed that manufacturing domestically or Local Value Addition (#LVA) is a key step towards making technology accessible to the masses and bringing better benefits to the socio-economic progress of the country.