Solar-powered phones for off-grid Ugandans

Solar-powered phones for off-grid Ugandans

Home-made solar-powered mobile phones are on their way to Uganda, says local manufacturer Simi Mobile.

The company, which assembles laptops, smartphones and featurephones in Namanve industrial park in Wakiso District, has, according to Ugandan press reports, started manufacturing solar-powered smartphones.

The target market is end users who cannot easily access the country’s electricity grid. According to David Beecham Okware, Simi Mobile’s executive director, this off-grid market includes as much as of 60 per cent of the population.

The aim is also to make the phone cheap and user-friendly with government services in mind, though that may involve government subsidy. At the moment the phone is said to cost Shs35,000 (about $9.50) and the company has apparently asked the government to make it cheaper so that it can be used for disseminating government information. Given the low price, it is not clear what sort of functionality the phones will offer.

Simi Mobile has already had some involvement with the government.  The country’s National Information Technology Authority has apparently been working with Simi Mobile to develop temperature guns which have been in high demand since the recent pandemic began. 

Simi Mobile was established in July 2019 after the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the government and ENGO Holdings Limited, a Chinese company. It then started assembling and manufacturing phones and computers in Uganda. Its computer and mobile phone assembly and manufacturing plant opened in November of that year.

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