Tecnno Mobile Ethiopia manufacturers announced plans earlier this week to make the nation’s first domestically assembled smartphone.
The Tecno3 will support Google’s Android 2.3 operating system, GPS technology,and Amharic text. This announcement comes off the heels of Ethiopia’s dramatic setback for freedom of expression: the government ban on the use of Skype and other VoIP services (like GoogleTalk) by its citizens. Violators can face up to 15 years for violation.
Ethiopia has long been criticized for its repressive measures to restrict freedom of speech and the censorship of journalism and the internet. According the to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 79 Ethiopian journalists have been exiled as a result of the tyrannical government policies against dissent since 2001. The government owned internet provider, Ethio Telecom, the only provider in the country, heavily censors internet use and works to stop independent news and opposition blogs.
While other countries in Africa such as are passing right to information laws and others, like Kenya are becoming hubs for media innovation and ICT development, Ethiopia is sliding further and further into one of the most oppressed nations in the world. The nation may be out to join the ranks of other nations producing communication technology, but what is the value of a locally produced smartphone if the native consumers are intimidated into silence?