Friday, October 03, 2008

Nokia opens sub-Saharan research center in Nairobi

Nokia, the leading mobile phone manufacturer has opened the sub-Saharan research centre in Nairobi

The Nokia Research Africa (NoRa) is the first in Africa and will carry out study into Nokia products and services across the continent, said Jussi Impio, NoRa team leader. The centre tackle issues related to entrepreneurship, energy management, healthcare, education, transportation, social media, arts and culture.

NoRa will work closely with African universities and Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to develop prototypes of devices that are suited for the African market, and to study the telecommunications trends in the various countries.

The center is targeting mobile phone users and the youth in order to design products and services that are relevant and add value to users, said Impio. Mobile communication plays a significant role in the socio-economic fabric in the continent.

The region has majority of the people in the low income bracket, poor infrastructure, low access to information, and a variety of social problems, most of which can be tackled through the use of mobile phones, added Impio.

Nokia which claims it manufactures a million mobile phones handsets everyday will focus on issues of pricing of mobile phones and the inclusion of features that are relevant to the region.

NoRa has carefully selected its partners to ensure that the research methods and resulting technologies are relevant and connect with the communities involved, he added.

“NoRa will work with NGO’s and institutions of higher learning because these institutions have an understanding and knowledge of the research methods to be applied in communities,” Impio explained.

NoRa is currently undertaking a study in Huruma estate, a lower income estate about 10 kilometers from the city center. Through partnership with the slum code programme, NoRa hopes to understand the dynamics of the informal music industry in the urban slum communities.