Gare d'Owendo train station in Libreville, Gabon. Photo credit: Ben Mack
KaiOS Technologies - makers of the KaiOS operating system for smart feature phones - has confirmed Orange’s participation in a recent Series B funding round led by Cathay Innovation.
The added participation of Orange in the Series B investment strengthens KaiOS' position, particularly in Africa, where 827 million people still have no access to the Internet.
This joint vision isn’t a new development. At Mobile World Congress in February, KaiOS and Orange announced Sanza – a smart feature phone integrating voice-recognition, long battery life and popular apps and sold for US$20. 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.
Based on KaiOS' 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, localised solutions that bridge the digital divide in Africa and more.”
Commenting on this partnership, Alioune Ndiaye, CEO Orange of 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 a 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.”
KaiOS is dedicated to working with independent app developers to offer localised content that meets the unique needs of the African region. Through the KaiOS Developer Portal, app developers can create their own content for KaiOS and have it published in the KaiStore. Using KaiAds, content owners can monetise their apps and services on KaiOS, while brands have the opportunity to reach an entirely new segment of users with their ads. The developer portal includes information, developer tools and best practices, to make the development process as easy as possible. The company also partners with local coding schools to provide workshops and training focused on local app development for KaiOS.