WINDHOEK – A local cellphone company, Elephonic Mobile, has produced a product specifically for the local market, which offers users the option to operate the gadget in local languages. In addition, the owner of the company, Kenny Liswani, plans to establish an assembly plant in Namibia and has in fact commenced with selecting prospective employees that are to be trained in China precisely for this purpose.
Calling it a first for the Namibian market, Elephonic Mobile’s new product, called the Katoshe D30, is expected to be launched next month, and more enticing is new phones are expected to retail for a mere N$350.
“At this point in time, we will only avail the Katoshe D30 and later in the year we will introduce our affordable smartphones model which should carry a relatively low price tag but will be packed with high-end features and technology similar to that of well-known western brands,” said Liswani.
During an interview with New Era, Liswani explained that the Katoshe D30’s components, both hardware and software, are currently manufactured in Asia. “However, to address and tackle the plight of the unemployed at home we are currently in the process of hand-picking young and talented Namibian individuals to be trained in China,” said Liswani. He added that this is to enable setting up an assembly point in Namibia as soon as possible, for phones and other electronics planned to be manufactured at home in the near future.
Liswani says adding local languages to the mobile phone involved a complex process of translating the languages and integrating them into the operating system’s menu string. Each of the selecting languages requires the translation of about 15 000 words that are used in the phone’s menu string. “After a few hiccups we managed to find a solution,” he confirmed.
Liswani, who says he started the company with only N$3 000 and sourced additional funds as the business idea expanded, expects about 200 000 units of the Katoshe D30 to be sold within the next 12 months. The number of units to be availed at the expected launch date of June 2018 should be between 30 000 and 50 000.
“I strongly believe there is scope in the Namibian market for a locally produced mobile phone because most mobile phone manufacturers are highly focussed on catering for mass sales aimed at Africa as a market. “Our strategy takes a slightly different approach whereas we don not only produce affordable mobile phones for Namibia but we actually customise the software to the point that anyone within the African market, at all literacy levels, especially those who only read and speak vernacular languages, are given the option to operate the mobile device in their respective language. This is irrespective of the country where we sell our product. So, in essence, that alone effectively addresses the issue of availing technology to all our people with an innovative, yet effective approach,” said Liswani.
He continued that his company is receiving both international and regional support and noted that there is “colossal” interest for the products in various African countries. “Our plan is to strategically scale our business to other African countries as long as there is a need for product and it makes business sense. We currently have an office in South Africa and our company is lawfully registered and operating in that country. We also plan to expand our operations to other countries such as Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe and DRC in the near future,” said Liswani.