Huawei launched a customized version of its Ascend W1 Windows Phone for Africa today, as Microsoft tries to make headway in less-saturated markets on the continent. The phone, called the Huawei 4Afrika, is being launched in Angola, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa, and will be available in blue, red, black, and white. The device will be the first in a "4Afrika" series, part of Microsoft’s bigger strategy for the region.

Pre-loaded with custom apps written by Africans for Africa

The phone will have the same 4-inch WVGA display, dual-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon processor, and 4GB of internal storage found on the phone we saw at CES, but it will be pre-loaded with custom apps written by Africans for Africa. Microsoft believes local content can entice people to make the switch from cheaper feature phones.

The director of Microsoft’s Windows Phone division in the Middle East and Africa, Gustavo Fuchs, told the BBC that the company’s objective is to boost smartphone ownership in what it sees as a growth market. "If you look at current penetration compared with the US or Europe, which is around 50%, in Africa the average is very close to 10%, less in some parts," he said.