July 16, 2015 / 6:40 PM / in 2 years

Start-up VMK launches production of "Made in Congo" phones

BRAZZAVILLE, July 16 (Reuters) - Republic of Congo’s homegrown tech start-up VMK this week launched a production unit of its mobile phones in Congo and aims to assemble some 4 million phones annually, the company’s chief executive Verone Mankou said on Thursday.

VMK was started by 29-year-old Mankou in 2009 with the aim of tapping into the growing African mobile phone market with products made in the continent to challenge the likes of Apple, Samsung and Blackberry.

Designed in Congo, VMK’s brands includes a tablet Way-C, a smart phone Elikia and a low-end mobile phone Moke, which are priced competitively compared with others in the market. These products were formerly assembled in China and imported.

“We will now be doing in Congo what we have been doing in China. We will import the (raw) materials,” Mankou told Reuters.

VMK’s Elikia smartphones currently retails in Congo and Ivory Coast, West Africa’s biggest economy. Mankou said that with the increase in production, he plans to expand sales to other African countries.

The firm currently employs 200 people in Congo. (Reporting by Philon Bondenga; Writing by Bate Felix)

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