Ivory Coast gets first locally-made smartphone for users in 16 local languages

Godfrey Elimian
Open G”, which can understand commands and respond in 16 of Ivory Coast’s approximately 60 spoken languages, including Dioula, Senoufo and Bété
Ivory Coast joins list of African countries with locally manufactured phones
Ivory Coast manufactures first smartphone to suit local users

An entrepreneur in Ivory Coast, Alain Capo-Chichi has created the country’s first locally-made smartphone, which aims to improve accessibility with voice commands in local languages for users who can’t read and write, according to a report by Reuters.

The smartphone, called “Open G”, which can understand commands and respond in 16 of Ivory Coast’s approximately 60 spoken languages, including Dioula, Senoufo and Bété, went on sale last month in the West African country.

Alain said he has created the Open G phone to help people like his parents, who are illiterate, use features like transferring money and sending messages, thus creating a solution for Africa’s uneducated populace who have previously faced a major challenge in accessing key features that comes along with these phones.

Ivory Coast gets first locally-made smartphone for users in 16 local languages
Alain Capo-Chichi, Président chez Groupe CERCO

“In Africa the problem we have… is that reading and writing is not accessible to everyone,” he said. “People can use their smartphones much more easily by simply speaking to them.”

Alain Capo-Chichi, Président chez Groupe CERCO

Read also: Samsung unveils new foldable smartphones, plans to maintain the market lead

The locally-made smartphone joins the list of other locally-made smartphones produced in other countries in Africa.

Africa’s quest to manufacture smartphones

Africa recently joined the list of countries with locally manufactured smartphones globally in 2019, when Rwanda launched a locally-made phone by Mara Group.

The group recorded an important feat as it became the first to manufacture the first-ever ‘Made-in-Africa’ smartphone model. The phones named “Mara Phones” were launched on October 7, 2019, in Kigali, Rwanda and as a result gave a boost to the country’s ambitions of becoming a regional technology hub.

Africa's quest to manufacture smartphones indigenously
The Mara phones

The Mara Phones, which are in two models – the Mara X and Mara Z, also run on Google’s Android operating system.

Since then, Mara group has made attempts to establish its business in South Africa, a distant neighbour of Rwanda. However, the company then put the production facility and other investment-related parts up for auction to investors.

In February 2019, Egypt, through the Minister of Supply and Internal Trade Ali Moselhi launched the first Egyptian- manufactured smartphone “SICO”.

Ivory Coast's first locally-made smartphone caters for local users
Ivory Coast’s first locally-made smartphone caters for local users

Mohamed Salem, Chairman of the Egyptian Silicon Industries Co. (E-SICO), stated that SICO mobile phones are the first local smartphone brand, with 45 per cent of its components manufactured locally. The device’s other components are provided through China, based on a partnership with Chinese manufacturers.

The phone is being manufactured in different models. These include the Mini3, Plus 2 4G, Nile X, Diamond 2 and Plus 2. The Egyptian smartphones are reportedly being distributed in both the North African and Middle Eastern markets, with a regional guarantee, according to Salem.

In a similar vein, Nigeria was also on its way to producing its own mobile phone and sim cards. recall that we also reported that the president of the country, Muhammadu Buhari received the first made-in-Nigeria cell phone on June 9, 2021. The locally-made device is called ITF Mobile.

The cell phone presentation was made to the president by the country’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo. Presenting the phone, Adebayo said it was produced by the Electrical/Electronics Technology Department of the Industrial Training Fund’s (ITF) Model Skills Training Centre, using locally sourced components.

Africa is rapidly realizing the need to adapt current technology to local needs and peculiarities in order to provide access to both the educated and the unsophisticated, even though it has not entirely emerged as a major worldwide market for smartphones or even one that suits its local users.

Read also: With ₦4bn transactions in 10 months, eNaira is performing less than expected


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