According to a recent article in cp-africa.com, Huawei, a global mobile and telecom provider, is bringing an inexpensive Android powered mobile phone to cellular subscribers in the East African country of Kenya.

While it is common knowledge on the continent, many abroad are not aware that use of mobile phones has grown at a dizzying rate in Africa. For many Africans, a mobile phone is their first phone ever. And, since service is almost exclusively provided via ubiquitous pre-paid phone cards, customers do not need to sign service contracts, which are typically associated in the North with a credit history and a fixed address.

Until recently, a cell phone in Africa usually meant an inexpensive Nokia handset with little in the way of installable apps. However, the inexorable smartphone revolution appears to be headed to Africa. The limiting factors are, of course, handset prices and network capacity. At least for handsets, the recent announcement of a $100 (8000 Kenyan Shillings) Android 2.2 powered phone means that many members of the emerging Kenyan middle class can now afford an app phone.

According to cp-africa.com, the phone

runs on Android 2.2 [Froyo], features a 2.8-inch capacitive touchscreen, 528MHz processor, 3.2MP camera, brightness, proximity and accelerometer sensors built in, and MicroSD storage. Available in black, yellow, blue, and purple, the IDEOS supports functions such as voice dialling, voice navigation, and the ability to run applications off the SD card.

While it is remarkable that this much hardware capability is available at such a low price, it is important to remember that to reach the much larger, poorer population, the phone price would have to drop substantially further.

Huwei had already launched another Android powered phone in July on Safaricom, Kenya’s biggest mobile network carrier. Together, these announcements show the promise of a powerful and free mobile operating system, Android, coupled with rapidly decreasing hardware prices to reach every corner of the world.

Source: www.cp-africa.com, via James Bon Tempo, @jamesbt