Pioneering the brand of African-made smartphones, Mara Phone a smartphone by the pan-African conglomerate Mara Group, has built a high tech smartphone manufacturing facility in Kigali’s Special Economic Zone, Rwanda.
Launching the factory, Rwandan President Paul Kagame commended Mara Group’s entry into the affordable smartphone market and underlined the need to boost the adoption of high-tech products in the East African country.
“The smartphone is no longer a luxury item, it is rapidly becoming a requirement of everyday life. That trend is bound to increase in the years to come as more and more services migrate to digital platforms. We want to enable many more Rwandans to use smartphones. The cost and quality is very important and the introduction of Mara Phones will put smartphone ownership within reach of more Rwandans,” said President Kagame during the launch.
Mara Phones’ new factory with the capacity to manufacture more than 2 million smartphones in a year will start manufacturing two phone models, the Mara X and Mara Z. Both phones will retail for less than $200 and will have a longer-lasting battery than other smartphones, greater storage space and a 2-year Android version update courtesy of a partnership with Google.
“We realized a few years ago that to create a positive social impact on our continent and in emerging markets, we need to have high quality and affordable smartphones. What we have around Africa are basically mobile phone assembling plants. What we have built is Africa’s first smartphone manufacturing plan.
“When we first told people about Mara Phone they told us we were crazy and that it wasn’t possible. Our true belief in Africa, particularly Rwanda, is a dream come true. This is a historic moment which will help shift the narrative for Rwanda, Africa and the rest of the world,” said Ashish Thakkar Founder and CEO of Mara Group.
The two models of Mara Phone will be competing against dominating Tecno and Samsung models sold at $40 and $70 respectively. Mara Phones has partnered with local banks and telecommunications firms to create a financial model that will allow users to pay for their phones over a two-year period.