Hot on the heels of RIM’s big push into Africa, BlackBerry Connect has now been made available for a few companies in the region. Using the service, users will be able to connect to BIS and BES on select non-BlackBerry phones. It’s not clear exactly which providers provide access on which phones, but Safaricom and Celtel are specifically mentioned, with Celtel providing access on some Nokia E series phones.
As predicted, Celtel announced BES support in Kenya today. Once again, EMS partnered up with Celtel to bring BlackBerry service to a new market. (Celtel Kenya’s parent company, MTC, has done some business recently with Fastlink out in Jordan.) Celtel’s seeing Safaricom’s initial two releases of the Pearl and BlackBerry 8700, and raising them a BlackBerry 8800. We’ll keep you posted on how these two compete in the months to come.
The BlackBerry 8700 and BlackBerry 8100 will be hitting Kenya June 20th. via Safaricom, much to the shagrin of Celtel, who was looking to bring the service in the near future. Ongoing spats with the Communications Commission of Kenya has resulted in some harsh wireless taxations, which both carriers have been fighting.
“The cost of making mobile calls in Kenya today is the highest in the region and amongst the highest in the world”, observed [David Murray, Celtel CEO]. “Lowering the cost of airtime through reduced taxation would lead to more people being linked to mobile telephony as the cost currently is the biggest barrier to potential subscribers”, he added.
Oh man, Canada hears you, Kenya.