African-designed smartphone, tablet seen

Dec. 27, 2012 at 3:47 PM
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BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of the Congo, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- An entrepreneur in the Republic of the Congo is launching what he says is the first African-designed smartphone and tablet.

Verone Mankou said his company's VMK devices will run the Android operating system and will cost $170 for the smartphone and $300 for the tablet computer, the BBC reported Thursday.

"Only Africans can know what Africa needs," Mankou said at a technical conference in Johannesburg, South Africa.

"Apple is huge in the United States, Samsung is huge in Asia and we want VMK to be huge in Africa."

The devices will be sold in 10 other West African countries besides the Republic of the Congo as well as Belgium, France and India.

The VMK products will be produced in China, leading some to charge dishonesty in claiming as "African" products produced elsewhere and simply branded locally.

Mankou responded to the criticism on his company website, saying that while the smartphones and tablets were manufactured in China for cost reasons, the design and engineering was entirely African.

"We are somewhat offended by the disregard of those who persist in denying the authentication of our products, despite evidence," he wrote.

"Most of those critics are either Afro-pessimistic (who argue that 'nothing good can come from Africa'), or just (future) competitors."

Unlike some other devices being sold as "African" in origin, there were no products matching the VMK devices in other countries under different branding, the website said.

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