Africa may seem to be getting it right as Rwanda’s Mara Group yesterday 7th October 2019 launched two smartphones. Ashish Thakkar, Mara Group CEO described them as the first “Made in Africa” models, opining that the development would give a boost to the country’s ambitions to become a regional technology hub.
The Mara X and Mara Z will use Google’s Android operating system and cost 175,750 Rwandan francs ($190) and 120,250 Rwandan francs ($130) respectively.
While in Nigerian naira, the Mara X and Mara Z will cost N67,000 and N46,000 respectively.
They will compete with Samsung, whose cheapest smartphone costs 50,000 Rwandan francs ($54), and non-branded phones at 35,000 Rwandan francs ($37).
Thakkar disclosed that it was targeting customers willing to pay more for quality.
"This is the first smartphone manufacturer in Africa,” CEO Thakkar told Reuters after touring the company alongside Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame.
“We are actually the first who are doing manufacturing".
Thakkar added that the plant had cost $24 million and could make 1,200 phones per day.
Mara Group 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 agreement is due to begin trading in July next year, aiming to unite 1.3 billion people and create a $3.4 trillion economic bloc.
But it is still in the very early stages and no timelines have been agreed for abolishing tariffs.
President Kagame is hopeful that the phone company would increase Rwanda’s smartphone usage, currently at around 15%.
“Rwandans are already using smartphones but we want to enable many more.
The introduction of Mara phones will put smartphones ownership within reach of more Rwandans " Kagame disclosed''.