Kenya to introduce $40 phones in an attempt to increase digital inclusion

This groundbreaking step is expected to usher in a transformative era of technological accessibility and opportunity for the country’s citizens.


The government of Kenya is set to introduce cost-effective smartphones to the market, following the completion of feasibility studies by the Information Communication and Technology Cabinet. William Ruto, the country’s President, announced this initiative soon after he assumed office in September 2022, as a part of his ‘Digital Superhighway’ (full manifesto here).

These smartphones will be priced at $40, making them affordable to a wider population. The primary objective behind this initiative is to enhance digital inclusion by ensuring that all Kenyans have access to government services and platforms. This step is expected to contribute to greater accessibility and participation in the digital realm.

In a bold move, the Kenyan government has embarked on a significant endeavour by initiating local production of smartphones. By manufacturing these devices within the country, the government aims to eliminate the obstacles that have hindered many citizens from fully embracing the digital world.

The extensive digital infrastructure of 9000km of terrestrial fibre-optic cable, covering 96% of the population, already established throughout Kenya provides a strong foundation for the country’s efforts, and the provision of affordable smartphones would fully harness the potential of the existing framework.

Kenya is one of the leading African countries when it comes to using digital opportunities for economic development (through the National Payments Strategy and Digital Economy Blueprint), wider access (for example, with the National Broadband Strategy), and long-term planning using the National Kenya Digital Master Plan 2022-2032.