Thursday, March 1, 2012

Congolese Inventor Designs Africa’s First Tablet Computer

Photo: Vérone Mankou)
Look out, Apple. Congolese inventor Verone Mankou recently rolled out Africa’s first tablet computer, theWay-C, and the affordable machine will eventually be sold in ten African countries, Belgium, France and India.

The Way-C went on sale Monday in the Democratic Republic of Congo and costs roughly $300. The machine boasts 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," 26-year-old Mankou told AFP.

Although the Way-C was designed in Congo by Mankou’s company, VMK, the tablets are manufactured in China due to a lack of technological factories in Congo. However, Mankou says he does not plan on remaining dependent on foreign labor for long.

“…[W]e are looking for funding to create an assembly line,” he told Jeune Afrique. “This will allow us to reduce our transportation costs from Asia, as the individual ingredients are much less bulky. The aim is to avoid taxes on imports of electronic products that limit our competitiveness. We acquired the participation of our Chinese partner to form Congolese skills.”

Congo is one of the African countries where most of the minerals needed to produce smartphones and computers are mined. 

However, much of the lucrative revenue gained from export of these minerals is lost to corruption and funneled into rebel and militia groups that perpetuate violence.

The name of the tablet means “light of the stars” in a northern Congolese dialect, and Mankou says that it will soon be available for purchase with 3G from a local telephone company — an upgrade that will help bring the Internet to many more across Africa.

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