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by Mildred Europa Taylor, at 12:00 pm, May 10, 2018, Tech & Innovation

Vérone Mankou, the Congolese ‘Steve Jobs’ behind Africa’s first tablet and smartphone

Vérone Mankou --- thisisAfrica

He made international news in 2012 when he designed Africa’s first tablet, a gadget for people who cannot afford Apple’s iPad.

But the journey did not come easy for the Congolese techpreneur, Vérone Mankou.

Since 2006, his wish was to design and manufacture low-cost laptops that will enable more people in his country to get access to the internet.

For six months, he was working on the project that appeared difficult to complete until in 2007, he saw Steve Jobs presenting the first iPhone on television.

Mankou, however, realized that the iPhone had no keyboard and that motivated him to create a tablet computer or a bigger version of the iPhone to rival Steve Job’s invention.

Verone Mankou and his tablet — Flickr

After reading books online and taking trips to China to gain the needed knowledge for his idea, Mankou managed to create the prototype of his brand of tablet computer known as the Way-C.

He wanted to go commercial but this proved difficult due to lack of funds, stalling his project for two years.

But thanks to the Congolese government, which invested $700,000 into the project, including assistance from some African businessmen and an advance from a Chinese assembly plant, Mankou’s company, VMK Tech, manufactured the first 5,000 Way-C tablets in 2011.

The tablets, even though were designed in Africa, were manufactured in China to keep the price low and due to a lack of factories and manpower in Congo.

Verone Mankou with his smartphone

A year later, Mankou began the manufacture of the smartphone brand, Elikia.

But his other dream at the time was to be able to create an affordable smartphone manufactured in Congo.

Fortunately, this dream materialized in 2015 when he launched his factory in the Mpila district of Brazzaville to move production of his devices home.

His company has since added other models to its range of mobile phones and has expanded to neighbouring West and Central African countries.

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