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Intel partners with African IT hubs, Google to boost mobile technology development

The initiative is meant to promote Intel's smartphone reference design, low-cost phone plans and low-power chips

A month after launching the Yolo low-cost handset in Kenya, Intel has partnered with iHub Nairobi and AfriLabs to launch a pan-African developer initiative aimed at promoting Android use.

The launch was done at the iHub and is aimed at promoting developer training, allowing developers to access software resources as well as joint training sessions by Google and Intel teams. AfriLabs is a network of 14 innovation hubs in Africa in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Zambia, Madagascar, South Africa, Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Senegal.

"Intel [has a] software partnership with iHub and Afrilabs working with tech hubs to give tools that allow user optimization, high-performance computing and enterprise application development, and highly responsive client application development," said Daniel Steyn, Intel's Kenya country manager.

Intel has chosen to promote the Android platform through collaborative training with Google even though it has close relationships with Microsoft, Samsung and Hewlett-Packard in the desktop, PC and server markets. Android was chosen because of its extensive use in the region as well as Google's engagement with the ICT and academic sectors in Africa.

"This partnership will help nurture and train the next generation of developers and entrepreneurs that can develop across platforms; a lot of developers are hardware hackers and Intel will provide reference designs," said Jessica Colaco, iHub research director.

The launch of Yolo in partnership with Safaricom signalled Intel's intention to play in the low-end segment of the handset market, which is dominated by Nokia, Samsung and Huawei. Yolo is based on a new low-power Intel Atom processor, code-named Lexington, and a smartphone reference design targeting telecom companies and manufacturers. Middle East telecom giant Etisalat is the latest to launch it in Egypt.

"The Intel Smartphone Reference Design provides a strong technology foundation from which our partners can innovate and quickly bring to market their own designs; it's a technology enabler that speeds time to market and allows customers to focus on their own unique industrial design, hardware and software differentiation," Steyn added.

Intel said that it is not competing with phone makers, emphasizing that it sees them as possible clients.

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