Congolese puts African tablet on sale

2012-01-30 18:06

Brazzaville - Africa has its first handheld tablet to rival the iPad and similar western inventions, which went on sale in the Republic of Congo on Monday, its inventor Verone Mankou said on Monday.

"We have set up a team and logistics to sell the tablet since Friday. Today, anyone can buy one," if they are in the main cities of the capital Brazzaville and the oil port of Pointe-Noire, the 26-year-old told AFP.

The tablet is called the Way-C - "the light of the stars" in a dialect of northern Congo. It measures 19 x 17 x 1.2cm and weighs 380g and has a 1.2GHz processor, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal memory and support for WiFi.

"In technological terms, this tablet is equivalent to all those to be found on the market," said Mankou, referring to the US giant Apple's iPad and its competitors.

The Way-C was conceived in Congo, where it was first presented to the public in September 2011, but it is assembled in China, "for the simple reason that Congo has no factories and for price reasons," Mankou added.

His tablet will sell for €229, which the developer, who is also an advisor on new information technologies to the ministry of communication, considered "acceptable and relatively low, considering the technology used".

For the moment, the Way-C will be sold exclusively in Airtel Congo stores in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire, a private mobile telephone company which is a subsidiary of the Indian group Bharti.

Mankou's firm, VMK, has cut a deal with Bharti. "With this company, we are also going to conclude a partnership to use 3G, because the tablet only has integrated wi-fi."

The financing of the project, launched in 2006, cost more than €122 000, essentially provided by VMK. The tablet is planned to be marketed in 10 west African countries, and in Belgium, France and India from February 15.

  • Se-a Spencer Ikeremm - 2012-01-30 18:18

    This is great. Let's hope this is the beginning of many more techno gadgets to come from this continent. I couldn't be prouder!

      Schalk - 2012-01-30 20:41

      Stealing cannot be classified as a gadget...

  • pieter.thefuture - 2012-01-30 18:33

    so let me understand - african tablet made in china - not just a custom chinese tablet sold in africa?

      Peter - 2012-01-30 19:04

      A lot of "western" stuff is made in China, so I think you're being unfair. Give credit where it is due, or does that hurt too much - ?

      Max - 2012-01-30 19:20

      Pieter, I agree. What did this guy invent? The tablet technology is with us for a while already. Did he develop new technology, software or what. From the information in the article it seems more like he asked the Chinese to produce knock-off tablets and branded it with some sky story. If this happened in a developed country he would be locked up.

      sandra.makhatini - 2012-01-30 19:47

      Max, if Way-C is a knock-off, then every other tablet is. India has a $50 tablet, also Android-based, called Aakash. Why is everyone skeptical when it comes to Africa's ability. It's time to celebrate some good news and give some credit, please.

      Schalk - 2012-01-30 20:36

      Made in China. Keep in a cool dry place. Do not use often. Your warranty expires when you swith it on the first time.

  • Godfrey - 2012-01-30 18:38

    This is a very fishy story. How do you develop a tablet for less than €122 000. Maybe it was one of those Moses tablets.

  • Peter - 2012-01-30 19:05

    This should give African's hope - but I'm sure a lot of cynicism is soon to follow - sad.

  • Celtis - 2012-01-30 19:07

    What date is it? No not April yet. Ok then, do you get drumsticks with it or are they extra?

      Godfrey - 2012-01-30 19:47

      Clever and amusing.

      Celtis - 2012-01-31 11:55

      Thumbs down? Be realistic. A rival for iPad? Please. I’m no apple fan but if you think that you can develop a rival for the iPad with a budget of 122 000 EUR then you deserve to buy one. Also if you buy one make sure you get the colour-in books and crayons aps with it. Best you can do with that kind of budget in China is to copy an existing product.

  • Schalk - 2012-01-30 20:33

    The Chinese and Indians have zero respect for copyright. This is probably a copy of one of the well known brands. It will never be allowed to sell in the civilised world where you have rule of law so they sell it in the DRC where there is now law. They also sell Chinese motorbikes there with Yamaha markings - what crap.

      sandra.makhatini - 2012-01-30 21:52

      It's Congo, not DRC, people. Also known as "Congo-Brazzaville" as opposed to "Congo-Kinshasa"(DRC/former Zaire). Anyway, even Samsung, HTC and others have been accused by Apple for copyright infringement & their tablets are expensive regardless. Truth is, there's very few original ideas out there. I believe the Way-C tablet is meant for the developing world anyway because of affordability. It'll do the job, I believe.

  • Lo - 2012-01-30 23:35

    Do you remember the “Nhava” guys who used to lie that they “manufacture” laptops in Zimbabwe? All they did was trawl the backyards of China picking up laptops discarded by experimenting Chinese high school students and then stick their Nhava logo and then ……voila..we had our first “indigenous laptop manufacturers”. I hope its not the same issue with the VMK tablet.

  • comurray - 2012-01-31 08:30

    Seeing is believing, feeling is the naked truth!!

  • CarlS - 2012-01-31 16:36

    €229 for a 1.2GHz processor, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal memory and support for WiFi? Ripoff?

  • werner.smidt - 2012-01-31 17:20

    "Brazzaville" that's the African version of "Brazzers"

  • Tety - 2012-02-08 15:22

    I think people are just being sarcastic because an african had the concept of inventing a what it is made in China????everything is made in China these days they have what we call "la main d'oeuvre" in french...what matter is the conception and the quality of the product.Get over yourself people

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