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Nokia to open research unit in Africa

By Edris Kisambira, IDG News Service
August 06, 2008 12:50 PM ET

IDG News Service - The world's leading mobile telephone handset maker, Nokia, is set to open a unit in Africa to carry out research into its products and services across the continent.

The research unit will work with universities and nongovernment organizations to develop prototypes of devices that are suited to African market, as well as study the telecommunications services sector on the continent, said Jussi Impio, team leader of Nokia Research Africa.

A team of six will open the office this month, with an official launch in September, Impio said at a satellite workshop hosted by the Makerere University faculty of Computing and IT.

Africa is becoming a more important market for Nokia, Impio explained, though the multitude of languages and the great cultural variety on the continent will prove challenging. Poverty, resulting in a low level of infrastructure, will also serve as a challenge to Nokia's operations in Africa, he said.

However, the new research center will allow the company to better understand the needs of its African customers to help develop devices that can offer benefits in health care and education, Impio said.

"Nokia's expertise is to enable humans communicate via the cell phone, and we want to do it well," he added.

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