Rwanda unveils the first ‘Made in Africa’ smartphone
The Mara Group in Rwanda launched two smartphones which they touted as the only made in Africa models. The phonses are a product of a string of measures put in place by the Rwandese economy to promote the country as a regional technological hub.
Made in Rwanda
Mara X and Mara Z will run on Google’s Android operating system and retail at $190 (175,750 francs) and $130 (120,250 francs) respectively. At the moment, the phones will compete with brands such as Samsung that already enjoy a foothold in the market. Ashish Thakar, the Mara Group CEO, explained how their marketing strategy is aimed at those willing to part with more for quality. During a tour of the company accompanied by Rwanda President Paul Kagame, Thakar touted their position as “The first smartphone manufacturer in Africa”.
At the moment, both phones cost more the average smartphone in Rwanda. The group attributes the higher cost to improved quality. The phones are available online for purchase and can be shipped anywhere within a week.
A new focus on regional-made products
The Mara Group adds to a long number of other companies that wholly make their smartphones in Africa. Other countries in this list are Algeria, Egypt, South Africa, and Ethiopia carry out smartphone assembly. It is important to note that the Mara group source everything from African components on their wholly African manufacturing plant.
The company makes motherboards and sub-boards as part of the entire process. Thousands of pieces manufactured to go into each and every phone. From a strategic point of view, Mara has based its future outlook on the success of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCTA). The agreement aims to create a 55-nation trade block to promote the sales of goods and services throughout the continent.
The new factory works into Rwanda President Paul Kagame’s vision to promote the country into an innovation powerhouse. During the inauguration event, the president hoped the smartphones will raise the adoption of smartphones which currently stands at a partly 15%.
Foster digital learning
Rwanda’s ICT minister expressed optimism in the plant providing jobs and contributing to human capital development. The intention is to develop highly-skilled ICT jobs. Expected employment model projections show that the company will directly employ an additional 300 people over a given a five-year span.