Nokia makes a grand comeback to Kenya with 3 Android smartphones and one reborn blast from the past

Nokia is back in Kenya.

The renowned Finnish brand is making a comeback (though, to be honest, it never really left) to the Kenyan market a few days after it also made a similar grand re-entry to the Nigerian market.

Nokia is back in Kenya courtesy of HMD Global, a Finnish company that licensed the Nokia brand from its owners.

According to HMD Global’s Senior Business Manager for East Africa, Gopher Ogembo, HMD Global and the Nokia brand are in Kenya to stay.

“It’s a long-term investment,” Mr Ogembo told me during an interview at the launch event held in Nairobi on Thursday evening. “This (Kenya) is the next frontier, nobody would want to miss that. If you look at the number of mobile brands that are coming to Kenya everyday, it just shows you the size of the opportunity so we are here to stay.”

HMD Global has its sights set on being a top 3 player in the smartphone industry according to Mr Ogembo.

That is an ambitious target that will involve careful courting of young people, a good number of whom may never have interacted with the Nokia brand and some of its gems like the Nokia 3310 that HMD Global has brought back to life in the brand’s previous life.

HMD Global, as expected, has made available in the local market the latest that it has to offer. That includes the Nokia 3, a low-cost Android smartphone that will go for Kshs 15,000, the Nokia 5 a mid-range device that will cost Kshs 20,000 and the Nokia 6, the best smartphone that HMD Global has to offer at the moment, which will go for Kshs 25,000.

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One thing I noticed during my brief interaction with the trio (Nokia 3, 5 and 6) was that with the exception of the Nokia 3, the Nokia 5 and 6 had the latest (July) Android security updates. That doesn’t seem to be a mistake, though. It’s part of HMD Global’s plans to make its Nokia-branded devices stand out from the crowded market, something noted by the company’s regional head of business operations, Michelle Wynne, “Pure, secure and always up-to-date.”

That is not all, though. The device that stole the show early in the year at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the iconic Nokia 3310’s more polished, colourful and sleek late sibling, has also made its way to the market where it will cost Kshs 5,300.

HMD Global has partnered with network operator Safaricom for the launch of its devices in Kenya and that effectively means that Safaricom will have exclusivity in the first few days with the devices only being available for purchase in its retail shops countrywide before the devices become available in the open market.

Starting in August, the devices will be available for purchase online through Jumia Kenya and in traditional retail channels countrywide including the likes of FoneXpress.

Emmanuel Chenze

Let's just say I know my stuff. I have 7 years experience handling, tinkering with and then writing extensively about Android stuff. Sometimes it is exciting, sometimes it is not; things can get stale with nothing new to show but I live for each one of those moments. Have something Android-related that you believe I need to have a look at? Hit me up: echenze@androidkenya.com