Kenya Launches First Semiconductor Chip Factory

The chip-making facility is located at Dedan Kimathi University of Technology (Dekut).

Story Highlights
  • Kenya has launched its first semiconductor manufacturing plant in Nyeri County.
  • The chip-making facility is located at Dedan Kimathi University of Technology (Dekut).
  • The plant starts operations this month on a small scale, with mass production slated for H2, 2021.
  • The plant will help fight the global chip shortage.

The semiconductor industry is one of the most crucial globally, with almost every device we use having these important chips. From smartphones, fridges, wearables, cars, laptops, consoles, and many others, chips are essential as they are the brains behind the operation of electronic devices.

Kenya is now one of the few countries globally with a chip manufacturing plant after the recent opening of such a facility in Nyeri county.

The chip-making facility is located at Dedan Kimathi University of Technology (Dekut).

It was born out of a Public Private Partnership (PPP) between the university, and 4Wave Inc. 4Wave Inc. is based in the USA and describes itself as a leader in thin-film nanotechnology material science and products. The company’s products and services include Semiconductor, MEMS (Micro-Electromechanical Systems), Data Storage and thin-film optics.

The new chip factory will begin operations this month, with plans to crank up production to a mass scale by the second half of the year.

“The intention is to transform Kenya from a consumer of such products to a producer,” President Uhuru Kenyatta said during the launch(via Nation).

The chip manufacturing plant launch underscores one of the key tenets of his government’s Big Four agenda. Manufacturing is also one of the core themes of Kenya’s Vision 2030, launched in June 2008 by former President Mwai Kibaki.

“To begin seeing some of these projects come to fruition is not only exciting but is a foundation to Kenya becoming an industrialised country in the near future,” Kenyatta added.

Fighting the Global Chip Shortage

Anthony Githinji, CEO of 4Wave Inc, says the new chip plant will help fight the global chip shortage, which is biting various industries, including automobiles.

The global chip shortage set in in 2020 in part due to a surge in demand for IT devices needed to support working and learning from home.

TSMC, one of the world’s biggest chipmakers, Intel and Nvidia, have warned the shortage could stretch up to at least 2022 or 2023.

The chip shortage is well reflected in the rising prices of electronic devices. The gaming industry has been severely hit, leading to inflated prices of new consoles, like the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S. New gaming GPUs, including the latest 3000 RTX series from Nvidia and AMD’s 6000 RX series, cost up to 2x more.

Companies like Xiaomi have also warned it could increase smartphone prices due to the shortage. The shortage has also hit Apple, BMW, Ford, and Samsung, among others expecting to lose out on revenue targets.

The chip shortage has also meant a delay in the launch of new products for some companies. Samsung, for instance, is expected to skip out the Galaxy Note 20 series this year. Apple also delayed the launch of the flagship iPhone 12 series in 2020 beyond the usual timelines.

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Alvin Wanjala

Alvin Wanjala has been writing about technology for over 2 years. He writes about different topics in the consumer tech space. He loves streaming music, programming, and gaming during downtimes.

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