Rwanda launches Africa’s first smartphone factory
London, Oct. 8, 2019 (AltAfrica)-Africa’s first smartphone factory has begun operation in Rwanda. President Paul Kagame on Monday presided over the launch of the company which produces Mara Phones in Kigali
The factory assembles smartphones in Rwanda and is operated by the Mara Group with the sole aim to pioneer a brand of made-in-African smartphones with global acceptability
The smartphone, dubbed the Maraphone, is the first high specification, affordable smartphone manufactured in Africa.
The phone has a warranty & can be purchased in installments over two years.
According to the Mara Group, the Maraphone will produce high quality and affordable smartphones to primarily serve the population of Africa and also with the aim to export to other continents.
President Kagame said that the first “Made-in-Rwanda” smartphones had already rolled off the assembly line last week.
He hailed the plant as another milestone in the East Africa nation’s journey to becoming a high-tech “made-in-Rwanda” industry.
“The Mara Phone joins a growing list of high-quality products that are made in our country. Producing smartphones is not a simple matter. Around one thousand individual components are involved as we have been taken through the whole process,” President Kagame said.
Kagame acknowledged that the smartphone was no longer a luxury item and was fast becoming a necessity of everyday life.
“In Rwanda, we have Irembo which is already citizens’ primary gateway for many public services. Integration of Irembo into Mara Phones is an innovative feature,” Kagame said.
Located in Kigali’s special economic zone, the smartphone factory employees over 200 people to manufacture high-tech smartphones for the local market and further afield.
With two models on sale for $159 and $229, the Android phones are hoping to compete with Asian manufacturers like Tecno and Samsung who currently dominate Africa’s markets.
Speaking at the launch, CEO Ashish Thakkar, said: “We realised a few years ago that to create positive social impact on our continent and in emerging markets we need to have high quality and affordable smartphones. That’s when we came up with Mara Phones.
The percentage of Rwandans who are using smartphones is low, according to the Rwandan government which hopes to put more devices within reach of the population.
The Mara Group are set to launch their next Mara Phone factory in South Africa on the 17th of October.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) estimates that the value of Africa’s mobile money industry is projected to reach $14 billion by 2020.