Kenya has launched a smartphone assembling plant with a capacity to produce up to 3 million mobile phones annually to expand digital access, Kenya’s President William Ruto said.

The mobile handsets are being assembled by a collaboration of three companies: Safaricom, Jamii Telecommunications, and Chinese dealer Shenzhen TeleOne Technology.

Although no specific date was provided, it is expected that the devices will be rolled out soon.

They will retail for around $50 and be 4G-enabled and accessible nationwide, officials of the assembling company East Africa Device Assembly Kenya Ltd.

Ruto added expanding digital access will bring millions of Kenyans into the digital economy.

"We must target that at least in the next five years, every Kenyan should carry a smartphone," he said at the launch.

Safaricom - the leading telecom provider in East Africa - has said the initiative fits with its strategy to strengthen its data business, which is one of its fastest-growing sources of income.

Safaricom's CEO Peter Ndegwa said at the assembly plant's launch that the initiative will drive economic progress.

Ndegwa has said that the level of data infiltration in Kenya is still not appropriate as not many people own smartphones.

Higher smartphone usage will enhance the company’s revenue and counteract the minor revenue decrease it has seen in mobile calls as a result of saturation, analysts have said.

(Edited by Bindu Rai)