The aim of Rwanda to become Africa’s technology hub is well on the way as Mara Group launched two smartphones describing them as the first “Made in Africa” models. The Mara X and Mara Z will use Google’s Android operating system and cost $190 and $130 respectively.
Mara Group CEO Ashish Thakkar said it was targeting customers willing to pay more for quality. “This is the first smartphone manufacturer in Africa,” Thakkar told Reuters after touring the company alongside President Paul Kagame of Rwanda.
Mara Phones just opened the first high tech, quality, affordable smartphone manufacturing plant in Rwanda. @MaraPhones strongly believe the Smartphone manufacturing will bring huge pride to the African continent being locally made in Africa.#MadeinRwanda #MadeinAfrica pic.twitter.com/mhPWTrSWw3
— Mara Phones (@MaraPhones) October 7, 2019
“We are actually the first who are doing manufacturing in Rwanda. We are making the motherboards, we are making the sub-boards during the entire process,” he said. “There are over 1,000 pieces per phone.”
Thakker said the plant had cost $50 million and could make 10,000 phones per day.
Mara Group hopes to profit from the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, a pact aimed at forming a 55-nation trade bloc, to boost sales across Africa, Thakkar said.
The agreement is due to begin trading in July next year, aiming to unite 1.3 billion people and create a $3.4 trillion economic bloc. But it is still in the very early stages and no timelines have been agreed for abolishing tariffs.
Kagame said he hoped the phone would increase Rwanda’s smartphone usage, currently at around 15%. “Rwandans are already using smartphones but we want to enable many more. The introduction of Mara phones will put smartphones ownership within reach of more Rwandans,” Kagame said.