LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – Nokia launched a regional research center in Nairobi this week to gain a better understanding of the needs of African consumers, said Dorothy Ooko, communications manager for East and Central Africa.
Nokia Research Africa (NoRA) will work with universities and NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) to develop prototypes of devices that are suitable for the African market, with an eye on offering benefits in health care and education. Nokia researchers will also study the telecommunication services sector on the continent.
An increase in mobile penetration has been found to impact positively on the growth of a country’s gross domestic product, a clear indication that the mobile communication industry has a major role to play in the development of a country, Ooko said. “Our focus is on the youth who make up the larger populace of the continent, and our research will enable us to design products and services that are relevant and add value to their lives,” said Jussi Impio, NoRA team leader.
Impio noted that Nokia has chosen to work with NGOs and universities because the institutions have an understanding of local communities.
“By working with them, we can ensure accuracy in our research method and findings,” Impio said.
In Kenya, NoRA is already undertaking a study through partnership with SlumCode, an NGO aimed at understanding the dynamic of informal music in urban slum communities.
Other areas NoRA is interested in exploring include entrepreneurship, energy management, social media, arts and culture.