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By 6 February 2013 | Categories: news

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Microsoft and Huawei have unveiled a new Windows Phone OS powered smartphone that has been designed specifically for the African continent. This smartphone, dubbed the Huawei 4Afrika, is the first in a series of smart devices being custom developed for Africa and released as part of Microsoft’s 4Afrika Initiative.

Huawei’s 4Afrika operates on Windows Phone 8 and is a variant of the Huawei Ascend W1. Locally, Huawei is aiming for a sub-R2 000 price point, while nytimes.com has reported costs of as low as $150 (around R1 340). 
 
The Huawei's closest Windows Phone rivals in terms of price are the Nokia Lumia 610 (review) and Nokia 510, both at R2 000, and while there are Android smartphones selling for less, including the Samsung Galaxy Pocket (R1 000, review) and the Vodafone Smart II (R1 300, review), they can’t match some impressive mid-range specifications from the Huawei 4Afrika.
 
It boasts a 4" (480 x 800) display, an zippy dual-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon S4 MSM8230 processor, 4 GB worth of storage space, and then also front (VGA) and rear facing (5 MP) cameras. This is presented in a rather sleek 10 mm body and according to Huawei, the smartphone will deliver a solid 420 hours of standby time as a result of its built-in power-saving technology and 1730 mAh Li-Polymer battery.
 
This smartphone will be launched in seven African countries, namely South Africa, Angola, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Morocco, and Nigeria, and can be expected locally at the end of Q1 2013. It will be available in blue, red, black, and white. 
 
 
Helping to improve Africa’s global competitiveness
 
According to a blogpost by Ali Faramawy, Microsoft Middle East and Africa (EMEA) corporate VP, this new 4Afrika Initiative aims to boost Africa’s global competitiveness. Microsoft’s goal is to empower African youth, entrepreneurs, developers, as well as business and civic leaders, helping them transform innovative ideas into projects that are able to assist their respective communities, countries, and the continent as a whole.
 
Microsoft’s 4Afrika Initiative intends to achieve the following targets by 2016:
 
?       Assist in placing tens of millions of smart devices into the hands of African youth.
 
?       Bringing one million African small and medium enterprises (SMEs) online.
 
?       Help 200 000 Africans develop skills for entrepreneurship and employability, by training 100 000 new graduates, the majority (75%) of whom the software giant intends to help place in jobs, whilst another 100 000 workers that are already employed will be trained to attain additional skills.
 
In related news, Nokia recently revealed that the Windows Phone 7.8 update is beginning its rollout to smartphones powered by Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) platform, with older Lumia smartphones to benefit from a host of new features including the look and feel of the Windows Phone 8 Start- and lock screens.

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