Your next smartphone could be made in Rwanda
Published on: October 08, 2019 12:42 (EAT)
Rwanda is the latest kid on the block of smartphone makers. A Rwandese company, Mara Group, released two smartphones on Monday: Mara X and Mara Z. They use Google’s Android operating system and will cost around Ksh. 19,700 (175,750 Rwandan francs) and Ksh. 13,500 (120,250 Rwandan francs) respectively. According to Reuters, the phones will compete with Samsung, one of the most visible companies dominating the African market. The plant reportedly cost $24 million (Ksh. 2.4 billion) and could churn out upto 1,200 phones per day. “This is the first smartphone manufacturer in Africa,” Mara Group CEO Ashish Thakkar told Reuters during a tour of the firm with Rwandese President Paul Kagame. Reuters reports that there are four African countries that assemble phones locally but import the components, namely; Egypt, Ethiopia, Algeria and South Africa. Mara Group says the phones are targeting customers willing to pay more for quality. “We are actually the first who are doing manufacturing. We are making the motherboards, we are making the sub-boards during the entire process, there are over 1,000 pieces per phone,” Thakkar told Reuters. The company is expected to begin trading in July next year. On his part, President Paul Kagame said the project will increase smartphone usage. “Rwandans are already using smartphones but we want to enable many more. The introduction of Mara phones will put smartphone ownership within the reach of more Rwandans,” he said. Recent statistics show that smartphone penetration in Rwanda currently stands at around 15% with the most basic being Tecno and Samsung models. The Mara X and Mara Z 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. Mara Phones has also partnered with local banks and telecommunications firms to create a finance model which will allows users to pay for their phones over a two-year period.