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TNM launches first KaiOS-enabled phone in Malawi

Integrated mobile network and ICT services provider TNM Plc has partnered with KaiOS Technologies to launch a 4G KaiOS-enabled smart feature phone in Malawi.

Priced at MK 24,999 (US$33.9) – according to the latest Malawi/ US currency conversion rates, the TNM Smart 4G will come with a value of MK28,000 (US$38) worth of bonuses comprising 500MBs, 150SMSs and free Caller Tune every month for six months.

The phone will offer customers access to essential and popular apps such as WhatsApp, Google Assistant, Google Maps, YouTube, Facebook, and many other applications unique to KaiOS.

TNM Plc Chief Executive Officer Michiel Buitelaar said the device has been designed to suit the communication needs of first-time users and people in rural areas.

“These devices will help people to entertain and educate themselves or have broadband internet,” he said.

Buitelaar added that the 4G phone would help disseminate timely and accurate information on COVID-19 at a time when cases are escalating and the United Nations has warned of disastrous effects on the least developed countries, which include Malawi.

According to official data from the Ministry of Health and Population, Republic of Malawi, the country recorded 88 new cases with 128 new deaths reported.

To address low digital literacy issues, Buitelaar said the KaiOS phone comes with an easy-to-use interface, an in-house app called Life which features training and lessons related to digital literacy and other educational content. It also provides access to Google Assistant that allows first-time internet users to use voice to easily navigate and connect with the digital world.

“Smart 4G runs on a Mediatek MT6731 chipset, enabling 4G connectivity and other smartphone-like features such as Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth. It has a 2.4” display, 4GB of storage (expandable to 32GB via microSD) and boasts a powerful battery which enables extended 8 hours of talk time,” he said.

Sebastien Codeville, CEO of KaiOS Technologies, added: “We will work with TNM to ensure that our devices carry content that is relevant and useful to the people of Malawi”.

Information Minister Gospel Kazako said: “TNM Plc takes a long view. They have invested significantly in a 4G mobile internet network that has transformed the TNM network into one of the most reliable Internet service providers in Malawi,” he said.

Africa interests

KaiOS Technologies has actively pursued new supply channels in other key markets in Africa, including Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

In early July 2020 Nigeria, the company partnered with Lagos state government and R&D firm Robert and John Ltd., will roll out smart feature phones to support e-learning as COVID-19 lockdown conditions remain.

The partners confirm that the smart feature phones running on KaiOS will have the Roducate app – and a handful of other useful apps preloaded. Access to other content will be blocked so the device will be solely for educational purposes.

During the same month, in Zimbabwe the company, together with Econet Wireless, announced the launch of the Atom 3G phone, the country’s first 3G smart feature phone.

Econet said the new handset will be bundled with a 3-month data package, offering customers 6GB of FREE data upon every purchase.

The companies said the phone will be available at half the average price of a basic Android smartphone sold in Zimbabwe.

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