Togo anxiously awaits locally-made laptops, smartphones

By Issa Sikiti da Silva, in Lome, Togo

Students, office employees and business people in the West African nation of Togo are anxiously waiting for the first batch of locally-manufactured IT equipment to hit the market.

The equipment includes, among others, laptops, tablets, modems and smartphones, and is set to be delivered in October this year.

The promise was made in May to the whole nation by one man, Christian Begbessou, associate director of Luft, a local company.

Degbessou said the components would be designed in Asia - China likely - and assembled in Togo. He also said that the devices’ embedded applications will be adapted to African realities and responding to issues of health and education, among others.

But since the promise and the presentation of the demo to the public, the buyers – who were told that the products will be affordable – are yet to know how much these devices would cost.

Nevertheless, the ‘Made in Togo’ news has since kept IT-minded people on their toes, and engendered some interesting debate in intellectual circles, including learning institutions and office corridors.

There are those who feel that the impoverished nation will be emblazoned with pride and honour once the products begin to be commercialised.

“I can’t wait to get my hands on one of these devices proudly stamped ‘Made in Togo’,” office employee Elizabeth Amewou told Biztechafrica.

“I just want this project to get off the ground as fast as possible, so that this assembly unit can employ more young people,” unemployed IT graduate Hakim Gamessou said.

The other side is, however, full of Afro-pessimists who believe that Africa is not to be trusted.

“I swear with my life that these devices will be as catastrophic as the Chinese ones because the parts will still be designed and manufactured in Asia. Why not get them to be done in France or Germany?” asked Claude Agadzi.

Furthermore, given the high price of original IT equipment in sub-Saharan Africa, other people - mostly students - prefer only debating about the price.

In Togo, an average laptop costs about $500 in the black market, while it costs a lot more in the computer shop.


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