In a bid to close Africa’s digital payment and boost internet access in the continent, Orange contributed to the recent $50 million Series B funding round in KaiOS Technologies led by Cathay Innovation. KaiOS Technologies, maker of KaiOS, the leading mobile operating system for smart feature phones.
The added participation of Orange in the Series B investment strengthens Kai’s leadership in the rapidly growing smart feature phone segment, in a market where 827 million people in Africa still have no access to the internet.
This joint vision isn’t a new development. At Mobile World Congress in February 2019, Kai and Orange announced Sanza – a smart feature phone integrating voice-recognition, long battery life and popular apps and sold for just $20 USD.
The device is now available in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Mali, and will be rolled out in other countries across Orange’s footprint in the coming months.
We’re excited to share that @orangeafrica has officially joined our Series B funding round, strengthening our ties to Africa and further propelling our efforts to spread affordable, capable devices across the continent and close the #DigitalDivide. 🌍 https://t.co/dlXWMpxmMf
— KaiOS Technologies (@KaiOStech) June 21, 2019
Based on Kai’s collaboration with key telecoms operators such as Orange, KaiOS-powered devices are available in 22 countries across Africa. These devices not only provide traditional mobile phone services but also access to apps such as the Google Assistant, Facebook and WhatsApp that help connect people and their communities.
“It’s partnerships such as this one with Orange that has made KaiOS the third leading mobile operating system with devices in more than 100 countries; further propelling us towards our goal of connecting the next billion users,” said Sebastien Codeville, CEO of KaiOS Technologies. “In 2019 and beyond, we look forward to developing even more innovative, localized solutions that bridge the digital divide in Africa and more.”
Commenting on this partnership, Alioune Ndiaye, CEO Orange Middle East & Africa, said: “today the two main barriers to internet access are the lack of infrastructure, for which Orange is investing one billion euros per year, and the cost of the device. As part of our effort to overcome this second barrier, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to develop our partnership with Kai through direct investment. Providing our customers with access to affordable devices is a crucial step in our ambition to democratise access to the Internet in Africa.”