Rwanda President Paul Kagame launched two ‘made in Africa’ smartphone models by Mara Phones manufacturing plant on Monday, 7th October 2019.
Mara Group, being the first manufacturer of smartphones in the continent hopes to be a leading brand of African made phones.
The opening of the manufacturing factory is expected to improve Rwanda’s journey toward becoming a high-tech product manufacturing hub, as the company produces everything required to make a complete phone.
The two smartphone models produced by Mara phones are quite affordable selling at 159 and 229 dollars and are expected to compete with other android phones from Asian manufacturers, such as Tecno and Samsung.
Mara Phones CEO Ashish Thakkar said during the launch that the idea to positively impact the continent was conceived years ago and they decided to come up with high quality yet affordable smartphones.
President Kagame also echoed Thakkar’s statement saying that there is a need to go digital and that quality and cost were an important factor in enabling Rwandans to use smartphones.
“Smartphones are increasingly becoming a necessity in the current world. It is no longer a luxury like it used to be,” said the President.
The factory, located at a Special economic zone in Kigali has created employment positions for 200 staff, with 90 percent of the staff being Rwandan.
It is envisioned that with time, Mara Phones will have three shifts a day and be able to create 650 jobs as the current 200 can only do one shift.
With the 200 members of staff, the firm is currently able to produce 1,000 phones in a day but is expected to grow to produce up to one million phones per year.
While Mara Phones seek to penetrate their products to the local market, where smartphone penetration stands at 15 percent, there is a hitch when it comes to the pricing of the phones.
The two phones produced are being sold at more than 100 dollars and 200 dollars respectively, the most used phones in the country are way cheaper selling at below 70 dollars and critics are questioning the firm’s ability to make a sale.
To deal with the issue high pricing of the phones, the firm has partnered with local banks and Telcos to allow buyers to make payments within two years.
The phone manufacturer is expected to extend its business across the internet and is in talks with partners in Kenya, Angola, and DRC. Their next launch will be on 17th October in South Africa.