Rwanda Launches First 'Made in Africa' Smartphones

Pappi Hex

Rwanda's Mara Group yesterday launched two smartphones which it described as the first "Made in Africa" smartphone in its bid which it described as "committed to enhancing and enriching the lives of the people of Africa."

The smartphones launched by the company are the Mara X and the Mara Z smartphones and they run on Google's Android operating system. The Mara X sales for RWF 175,750 (about $190) and the Mara Z costs RWF 120,250 ($130).

"This is the first smartphone manufacturer in Africa," Mara Group CEO Ashish Thakkar told Reuters after touring the company alongside Rwanda's President Paul Kagame.

Thakkar said companies in Egypt, Ethiopia, Algeria, and South Africa do assemble smartphones with imported components. However, Mara will do the whole manufacturing in Africa.

"We are actually the first who are doing manufacturing 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."

According to Mara's CEO, the plant costs $24 million and is capable of making about 1,200 phones per day. The Mara phones are to compete with phones from Samsung, whose cheapest phone cost RWF 50,000 (about $50), and non-branded phones at RWF 35,000 (about $37).

"Rwandans are already using smartphones but we want to enable many more. The introduction of Mara phones will put smartphones ownership with reach of more Rwandans," Kagame said.

The Mara CEO said the company's target is customers willing to pay more for quality, and to also increase Rwanda's smartphones usage which currently stands at around 15%.

Thakkar also said Mara Groups 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.

The African Continental free Trade Agreement which aims to abolish tariffs, will unite about 1.3 billion people and as well create a $3.4 trillion bloc. he agreement is due to begin in July next year, though for now, it is still in its early stage.

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