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Orange invests in KaiOS to boost African participation in the digital space

MTN Kamunye Kai
MTN Kamunye runs on KaiOS. Image credit: The NewTimes, Rwanda

KaiOS Technologies maker of KaiOS, the leading mobile operating system for smart feature phones, confirmed Orange’s participation in a recent Series B funding round led by Cathay Innovation.

This participation is a testament to both companies’ dedication to providing internet access and digital services to people across Africa.

The added participation of Orange in the Series B investment strengthens Kai’s leadership in the rapidly growing smart feature phone segment, in a market where 827 million people in Africa still have no access to the internet.

This joint vision isn’t a new development. At Mobile World Congress in February 2019, Kai and Orange announced Sanza – a smart feature phone integrating voice-recognition, long battery life, and popular apps and sold for just $20 USD.

The device is now available in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, and Mali, and will be rolled out in other countries across Orange’s footprint in the coming months.

Based on Kai’s collaboration with key telecoms operators such as Orange, KaiOS-powered devices are available in 22 countries across Africa.

These devices not only provide traditional mobile phone services but also access to apps such as the Google Assistant, Facebook and WhatsApp that help connect people and their communities.

“It’s partnerships such as this one with Orange that has made KaiOS the third leading mobile operating system with devices in more than 100 countries; further propelling us towards our goal of connecting the next billion users,” said Sebastien Codeville, CEO of KaiOS Technologies. “In 2019 and beyond, we look forward to developing even more innovative, localized solutions that bridge the digital divide in Africa and more.”

Must read: KaiOS closes distribution deals with 6 firms to expand footprint in Africa

Commenting on this partnership, Alioune Ndiaye, CEO Orange Middle East & Africa, said: “today the two main barriers to internet access are the lack of infrastructure, for which Orange is investing one billion euros per year, and the cost of the device. As part of our effort to overcome this second barrier, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to develop our partnership with Kai through direct investment. Providing our customers with access to affordable devices is a crucial step in our ambition to democratize access to the Internet in Africa.”

Kai is dedicated to working with independent app developers to offer localized content that meets the unique needs of the African region. Through the KaiOS Developer Portal, app developers can create their own content for KaiOS and have it published in the KaiStore.

Using KaiAds, content owners can monetise their apps and services on KaiOS, while brands have the opportunity to reach an entirely new segment of users with their ads. The developer portal includes information, developer tools and best practices, to make the development process as easy as possible. The company also partners with local coding schools to provide workshops and training focused on local app development for KaiOS.

(Press release)

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