By Alexandra Burlacu email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Feb 07, 2013 12:06 PM EST
Huawei and Microsoft have launched Windows Phone 4Afrika smartphone running on the Windows 8 mobile operating system.
The Huawei 4Afrika will be available exclusively for the African continent, including Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Angola, Morocco and South Africa by the end of the first quarter of this year.
According to China-based Huawei, the handset is part of an effort to boost mobile adoption and accessibility within the fast-growing African continent. Further plans towards this endeavor include developing cheap wireless broadband in the Rift Valley in Kenya, as well as helping people in South Africa and Egypt develop apps.
The Huawei Windows Phone 4Afrika is a customized version of the Chinese phone maker's Huawei Ascend W1, which made its debut earlier this year at the 2013 International CES. While the new handset for Africa sports the same 4-inch screen, 4GB of storage, and dual-core chip as the W1, it does bring something new as well.
Windows Phone 4Afrika will include custom apps created by African developers for African consumers, again as part of Microsoft's effort to encourage the penetration of smartphones in the fast-growing market.
"We believe there has never been a better time to invest in Africa and that access to technology - particularly cloud services and smart services - can and will serve as a great accelerator for African competitiveness," Jean-Philippe Courtois, President of Microsoft International, said in a statement.
The new Huawei 4Afrika smartphone will be the first in a series of handsets created for Africa, as Microsoft plans to zero-in on the region's more than one billion population to get a stronger hold of the smartphone market.
According to Microsoft, more than 90 percent of all the phones sold in Kenya are feature phones. The company has also worked with HTC, Samsung, and Nokia to develop Windows Phone devices for the African continent.
The Huawei 4Afrika sports a 4-inch WVGA IPS LCD touchscreen with a pixe; resolution of 480 x 800 with "zero-gap touch" technology. It packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8230 dual-core 1.2GHz processor with Adreno 305 graphics, powered by a 1,730mAh Li-Polymer battery. The handset also features a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera and a VGA front-facing shooter.
As it is available exclusively for the African market, the 4Afrika smartphone comes with a "customized Store in Store" with a range of apps and exclusive content, including content built and designed by Africans for Africans.
The Huawei 4Afrika handset will be available in blue, red, black, and white, and will come preloaded with those custom apps.
"Our aim is to be the most affordable Windows phone in Africa," Gustavo Fuchs, Director of the Microsoft Windows Phone division in the Middle East and Africa, told the BBC. "Affordability is important by without the right local content we believe a lot of users will not see the benefit in the change from a basic feature phone to a smartphone."
The companies offered no official word on pricing yet, but the smartphone reportedly targets middle-income users such as students, developers, and small business owners. The New York Times reported the Huawei 4Afrika smartphone will come with a $150 price tag, but neither Huawei nor Microsoft have confirmed that price.