Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.

Partner Perspectives (Sponsored Content)

Learning from India's Smart Feature Phone Revolution

Article Image
Figures from the GSMA revealed that in 2017 Eastern Africa had the world’s lowest smartphone adoption level at 25%, compared to the global average of more than 50%. The $100-$200 price for a smartphone is preventing 64% of the continent’s population from upgrading their 2G voice and text-capable phones to 3G/4G devices that can access the internet, and “market pressures alone will not bring down prices to a level that makes smartphones affordable for low-income groups in the near future.”

Rather than forcing people to choose between a feature phone without internet access, or a budget smartphone with a limited user experience, a different approach that has been successfully rolled out in India can provide inspiration.

In 2016, operator Reliance Jio launched the JioPhone, a smart feature phone that has all the essential capabilities of a smartphone but without the price tag. JioPhone users can access fast internet via Wi-Fi, 4G, and LTE, with Bluetooth and GPS networks also enabled. Users can make payments using NFC and access local and international apps in the JioStore. The device even comes with video capability. Besides device affordability, monthly costs for data are the other key consideration for users in India. With this in mind, Reliance Jio introduced a plan specifically for JioPhone customers. Its price is slightly more expensive than a voice+text-only plan, but a lot cheaper than a regular smartphone data plan.

The cheapest plan costs just US$0.75 per month which includes 1 gigabyte of data. For US$2.35, the user gets a whopping 42GB (1.5GB per day). This matches perfectly with research that shows the sweet spot for emerging markets lies around $2.5 per month.

The combination of an affordable device with a rich user experience plus a tailored data plan for smart feature phone users has proved to be an excellent way for people to get their first taste of the mobile internet. With an estimated 50 million JioPhone users connected by the end of this year, the Reliance Jio model is an inspirational case for all participants in the telecommunications industry on how we can bring the other half of the world’s population online. While every country is unique, it’s my hope that similar cases will emerge across Africa in the coming years through innovative partnerships between carriers, manufacturers, content providers, and other players in the mobile ecosystem.

— Sebastien Codeville, CEO, KaiOS Technologies

At AfricaCom 2018, KaiOS Technologies is a sponsor of the 20/20 Technology Forum and will be demonstrating its range of smart feature phones. For more information and to arrange a meeting at AfricaCom, email and for details.

Innovation hub


Super-app Gozem raises $5M for expansion plans

Gozem, the Francophone African super-app, has raised $5 million in a Series A round to help fund its expansion plans.


African startups raise almost $4B in 2021

Africa's startup ecosystem raised almost $4 billion in 2021 according to startups deals database Africa: The Big Deal – with Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt and Kenya taking the lion's share.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Guest Perspectives


Omdia View: October 2021

By Omdia Analysts

Across the Middle East and Africa, regulators are beginning to facilitate spectrum allocation to operators in the region for the deployment of new and innovative technology.


Research Bites: Why Africans stop using mobile apps

By Chinedu Wilfred Okonkwo, Magda Huisman and Estelle Taylor

This article – in collaboration with the African Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development – explores the reasons behind why Africans stop using certain mobile apps.

More Guest Perspectives

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

AfricaCom perspectives


Digital inclusion as a catalyst for economic empowerment: Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu

Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu talks to Connecting Africa about how digital payment solutions and mobile money are transforming the lives of small business owners, women and marginalized groups in East Africa.


Accelerating women in STEM: In conversation with GirlCode's Tinyiko Simbine

GirlCode co-founder and CFO Tinyiko Simbine talks about why it's important to help girls and young women excel in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.


How Poa Internet is unlocking meaningful connectivity in East Africa

Poa Internet's CEO Andy Halsall shares his views on what it takes to develop last-mile connectivity and get Africans online in a meaningful way.

More AfricaCom perspectives

Flash poll

All polls

Archived webinars

Meeting SME’s where they are - Building inclusive ecosystems for Africa’s small business owners

Micro and small businesses have been, and still are, the spine and lifeblood of the African economy, making up 90% of businesses on the continent.

Many of these businesses have still been operating in traditional ways and serving non-digital customers. With Covid-19 expediting the digital transformation process, businesses - big and small - have been forced to adapt to operate successfully in a more digital-first environment.

To ensure that the digitalization of Africa’s market doesn’t leave micro and small businesses behind, digital solutions must be inclusive and create business-ready environments. But how can we ensure that African SMEs become digitally enabled?

In this webinar we will share from our own experience on how to create such an environment, and the actions we took in vcita to get there, including:

  • Closing the digital literacy gap through tech inclusion 
  • Making a positive impact on local communities
  • Building the foundations for digital inclusion and small business growth in a technology-accelerated world
  • Building the foundations for digital inclusion and small business growth in a technology-accelerated world

Register Here >>

More Webinars

Sponsored video

More videos

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign Up