Rwanda gets locally made handsets

A-Link Technologies, a Chinese electronics company, has unveiled its first mobile phone handsets manufactured in Rwanda. This makes Rwanda the first country in the region to sell locally manufactured mobile phones.

The manufacturing of the handsets follows a memorandum of understanding signed in 2006 between A-Link and the Rwanda Information Technology Authority, the country's telecom regulator.

The company plans to start selling the phones, called "Alira," in the 21 countries of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern African after they are officially launched in October and once production is stepped up, said A-Link CEO Yin Quing Ri.

"One of the phone models has been programmed with Kinyarwanda software so the Rwandese who uses their mother language can communicate easily," Ri said.

So far, the company has produced three models -- the A100, A200 and A300 -- and promises that several other models are in the works.

The phones feature color screens and radios, among other amenities.

The plant is manufacturing 100 handsets per day, though it has the capacity to produce 700 phones per day.

A-Link began operating in Rwanda last year, as the country is positioning itself to be an ICT hub in East Africa.

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