The Congo-Brazzaville company has released an African-designed Android-powered smartphone. By Craig Wilson.
VMK, the Congo-Brazzaville-based website design, application development and consulting company that released a 7-inch tablet computer in 2011, has now released its own smartphone, called the Elikia.
The handset, which costs US$150, offers a 3,5-inch, 320×480-pixel display and is powered by a 650MHz processor and has 512MB RAM. The Elikia has a 5-megapixel primary camera and a VGA secondary camera and supports 2G and 3G connections.
The Elikia also includes Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS and has a micro-SD card slot that supports micro-SD up to 32GB.
It is powered by Android 2.3, but uses the Holo Launcher application to make the interface appear to run more like version 4.0, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich.
VMK CEO Vérone Mankou says the device was designed with African users in mind. He was speaking at the Tech4Africa conference in Johannesburg.
Elikia means “hope” in Lingala. Mankou says the inclusion of GPS is particularly important because standalone GPS units tend to be prohibitively expensive for African consumers.
In September last year, VMK released a 7-inch Android tablet computer called the Way-C. Though VMK has tried to keep its devices as African as possible, they can’t be assembled on the continent so manufacturing is outsourced to China.
Because there is no access to Google’s Play store of applications in Congo-Brazzaville, VMK offers its own app stores on the Elikia – the VMK Apps Market and VMK Games Market. It also vets apps for the platforms submitted by local developers. Mankou says the company has recently launched a VMK market card, which consumers can load with local currency and use to purchase apps.
The company is targeting the whole of Africa and other emerging markets where there is demand for low-cost devices, he adds.
“Only Africans can know what Africa needs,” he says. “Apple is huge in the US, Samsung is huge in Asia, and we want VMK to be huge in Africa.”