Africell confirms Afriphone assembly plans for DRC
African telecommunications operator Africell has announced the launch of a pilot project that will see mobile phones assembled at a specialised Industry Five facility in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s capital, Kinshasa.
The company said it will begin assembling up to 30, 000 of its propitiatory feature phones (Afriphone) handsets in DRC from January 2022, leveraging the construction company’s facility.
Africell and Industry Five expects first batch of DRC-made Afriphones to be ready by February 2022.
It added that availability of the devices is subject to strict performance standards tests before distribution to the country’s population of over 90 million.
After the initial phase, the company said production will increase and up to half-a-million Afriphones handsets could be assembled in the following 12 months.
The company said highly trained local technicians will assemble the devices on the site with assistance from collaborative robots.
According to the company, production process can also be decentralised as future technical activities could happen at sites in Bandundu, Goma or Lubumbashi.
The company said the decision to start assembling Afriphones in DRC reflects a broader commitment by both Africell and Industry Five to developing the regional market, adding that Industry Five’s facilities in DRC are also expected to produce a growing range of devices including tablets, laptops, high performance servers and data storage solutions.
Sam Williams, Africell Group Communications Director said, “Our mobile network business is meant to be a platform for growth and innovation. This applies both to the customers who use our services and to the partners and suppliers with whom we bring our services to customers in the first place. By assembling Afriphones in DRC, we are stimulating supply chain innovation and making a long-term bet which could transform the economics of mobile provisions in our African operating markets.”
Industry Five Group chairman JP Folsgaard Bak, details the advantages associated with the initiative. “This initiative challenges a common view that the only viable way to get mobile phones into the hands of African consumers is to import them box-ready. Instead, we are investing in the workforce and facilities that will bring a key section of the supply chain onto the African soil. Advantages include job creation, more competitive pricing, and a mobile sector in DRC that is better able to withstand global supply shocks.”