Made In Africa, Produced In China, Africa’s First Smartphone, Tablet Coming Home

Written by Dana Sanchez

Congolese company VMK made Africa’s first smartphone and tablet, but its devices have been produced in China until now.

Soon they’ll be produced in Africa in a factory under construction in the Republic of Congo, if all goes according to plan. The factory is being built in Brazzaville with an investment of close to $2 million and it will be used exclusively for the VMK range of products, according to a VenturesAfrica report by Niyi Aderibigbe.

To ensure locals are employable at the factory, VMK’s Chinese partner company has started training more than 90 people, according to the report. The Congolese company plans to produce 350,000 units per month.


VMK is expanding into West Africa starting with Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire’s economic capital.

The company’s first-ever store in Brazzaville opened in partnership with mobile telecom giant MTN.

The Abidjan store opened Thursday and will sell products exclusively from the VMK range, marking the beginning of the Congolese company’s expansion beyond its borders, VenturesAfrica reports. The store will provide 10 jobs.

“The opening of a store in Abidjan is an essential step in the extension of our Pan-African vision. It is here, at the crossroads of West Africa, that VMK has decided to embark upon conquering the new class of African consumers,” said Vérone Mankou, founder of VMK. “We will offer a top-of-the-range selection of products aimed at the general public.”

VMK plans to expand in five countries by the end of 2015, VenturesAfrica reports. A second store is scheduled to open in Abidjan and three in Kinshasa, DRC; Douala, Cameroon; and Dakar, Senegal.

Products include smartphone models priced at $20.50, $34 and $112. VMK is preparing to launch its second tablet in March, expected to cost less than $242. Its first tablet was Africa’s first made locally, according to VenturesAfrica.

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About Dana Sanchez

Dana Sanchez was born in South Africa and is a U.S. citizen. After working in advertising, she went back to school and earned a master's degree in journalism from the University of South Florida. As a business writer, she won regional and national writing awards. As editor of a daily newspaper, she coordinated staff writers, freelancers and photographers in the fast-paced environment of daily news. Dana was an editor at Moguldom Media Group for four years, helping to build and manage a team of staff and freelance writers. She works now on for Nubail Ventures. A long-distance hiker and cyclist, she writes about the business of technology.