The first Rwandan made phone, christened Alira, has been unveiled on the streets of Kigali as the country consolidates its stance as an Information Technology hub in the region.
Some of the phones have been specially programmed with Kinyarwanda software to the advantage of Rwandans who only use the native language.
A group of 30 Rwandan electronics trainees dressed in yellow T-shirts strutted Kigali streets showing off the colourful locally manufactured handset.
ALIRA is also programmed to be pocket and user friendly.
“A300 [one of the phones] is in Kinyarwanda. It costs Frw19,900. It is the first phone to be manufactured in Rwanda,” stressed Yin Quing Ri, the Chief Executive Officer [CEO] and owner of the company. The phone is also the firstto be manufactured in the region.
The phone project is the first of A-Link Technologies, a company started last year by a Chinese electronics specialist in conjunction with Rwanda Information Technology Authority [RITA].
A-Link is an affiliate to Chinalink Digital and Technology Company Limited, a Chinese based electronics company owned by Yin Quing Ri.
The unveiling of the first phone follows the ongoing laying of fibre optic cables for wireless broadband in Kigali and the suburbs, a new technology intended to increase coverage of high speed wireless internet.
According to the project plan, the new technology will be extended to the rest of the country by 2009 making Rwanda the first African country with such coverage. On the streets, one of the leaflets being circulated showed a display of phones.
“There is A100, A200 and more are soon to be made,” promised the CEO. Some of the major features mentioned on the leaflet include radio function, colour screen and a torch.
The leaflet also read that ; “Rwanda’s position as the region’s Information and Communication hub has been vindicated by the first mobile phone manufacturing plant in the south of the Sahara.”
Yin Quing Ri said that the project follows the 2006 signing of a memorandum of understanding [MOU] with Peter Fullaton, the Former executive Director of RITA.
“After signing the MOU, I advertised with the New Times and got people who had just finished their senior six. We train them before we enrol them,” said the Chinese specialist.
He promised that by Christmas, the first Rwandan made radio will have been assembled and will be followed by a television set.
Yin Quing Ri said that the official launch of ALIRA will be in October. At the moment they are producing 100 phones per day but have a capacity to produce 700 phones a day.
Apart from the Rwandan populace, the company are also targeting the East African Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa [COMESA].