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This smartphone costs just $6.66 a month with data

French telecoms company Orange has launched a 3G smartphone with data and minutes for a one-off fee of $40, in a bid to take a lead in Africa and the Middle East.

The device, known as Klif, runs Firefox's mobile operating system and will be available from April for consumers in 13 markets across the region.

Orange is charging consumers a one-off fee of $40 for the device, which comes with minutes, texts, and 500 megabytes of data on a six-month contract. The data is refreshed every month, but Orange did not give specifics about the amount of calls and texts users can expect. The deal works out to $6.66 a month.

"What we are saying is Klif should be a way to give internet to everybody and to change the way those people will behave with communication," Yves Maitre, executive vice president of connected objects and partnerships at Orange, told CNBC in an interview, ahead of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where the device will be unveiled.


Orange

Africa and the Middle East are important markets for Orange and it gets around 11 percent of its total revenues from the region. Orange had 97.5 million customers there at the end of last year and is looking to increase its footprint.

'Astute move'

Many device-makers are attempting to capture the emerging market audience with low-end phones as smartphones become increasingly cheaper. The sub-$80 global smartphone market showed year-on-year growth of 44.2 percent in the last quarter of 2014 in terms of shipments, according to IDC, as manufacturers are able to make devices with strong features for low cost.

While this section of the market is becoming increasingly competitive, analysts said Orange can differentiate by offering more than just a device.

"They can wrap a service offering around the smartphone," Ben Wood, chief of research, at CCS Insight, told CNBC.

"This is an astute move from Orange. It is an example of an operator using all the things that it has in its toolbox."

Future customers

The smartphone will be loaded with Orange services such as entertainment app Star Africa as well as partner services like video streaming service Dailymotion. Firefox's Marketplace app store will also be installed.

Maitre told CNBC that the long-term hope was that these users would stay with Orange and upgrade to more expensive smartphone at a later date.

"The first target is to help people have access to this modern life and to all this services. Yes, after they get used to that, then the hope is that those people will enjoy more data plans on higher tariffs," Maitre said.