Smartphones running the open-source Firefox OS have started shipping in Senegal and Madagascar. The Orange Klif, a 3G phone operating on Orange’s mobile network, is available in Africa first as part of a strategy to drive mobile internet growth across Africa and the Middle East as the company taps into a previously untouched market.

[image credit BestMobs.com]

[image credit BestMobs.com]

Back at Mobile World Congress, Mozilla announced that the release was coming as part of an effort to make Africa a major focus. According to a statement from Mozilla, the company intends to launch the Orange Klif across more markets in the coming weeks. Botswana seems to be next in line to receive the Firefox OS smartphone.

“Through these launches, Mozilla and Orange deliver on the promise of putting the mobile web within reach of millions more people not previously addressed by mobile offers,” Mozilla said in a blog post. Firefox Smartphones aren’t designed to compete with mobile giants such as Android OS handsets and Apple’s iPhone; they’re main goal is to put smartphones into the hands of people who have never owned one. This potential market is massive and could result in significant growth for Firefox.

Other proposed availability in previously untouched markets include Cameroon, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kenya, Mali, Mauritius, Niger, and Vanuatu. The launch in Senegal and Madagascar proves that Firefox is serious about reaching their goal so it wouldn’t be surprising to see this list begin to expand rapidly.

The Alcatel One-Touch made Orange Klif includes 3G connectivity, 3.5-inch 320×480 VGA screen, and dual-SIM support. The Klif runs Firefox OS v2.0 on a 1 GHz dual processor and also includes a microSD storage slot and 2MP camera. Orange announced back in March that it would offer data, text, and voice bundles starting “under $40”.

Orange doesn’t have a significant presence through operator MTN in South Africa – yet. But it wouldn’t be surprising to see that change in the future if Firefox’s strategy pays off.