Rwanda has opened a smartphones manufacturing factory in Kigali’s Special Economic Zone.
Mara Phones factory was launched by Rwandan President Paul Kagame and the high-tech facility is set manufacturer more than 2 million smartphones annually.
“Producing smartphones is not a simple matter. Around one thousand individual components are involved. The Mara Phones plant is therefore a complex manufacturing operation, requiring significant technical skills and expertise. It is another milestone on our journey to high-tech, “made-in-Rwanda” industry. Our world is changing fast. Keeping pace requires constant innovation,” said President Kagame during the launch.
Mara Phones is a subsidiary of Mara Group which is owned by businessman Ashish J. Thakkar.
“This is the path Rwanda has chosen for our development. The investment by Mara Phones Group is therefore in perfect harmony with our focus on science and technology as the key drivers of our economic transformation,” said Kagame.
Speaking at the launch ceremony, Thakkar said the company plans to manufacture high-quality smartphones at an affordable price.
“We realized a few years ago that to create positive social impact on our continent and in emerging markets we need to have high quality and affordable smartphones. That’s when we came up with Mara Phones,” Ashish Thakkar said.
Smartphone penetration in Rwanda currently stands at around 15 percent with the most basic Tecno and Samsung models sold at over Ksh4,000 and Sh7,000 respectively.
Mara Phones’ new factory will start manufacturing two phone models, the Mara X and Mara Z.
Thakkar said both models will be sold for less than Ksh20,000 ($200) and among other things will have a longer-lasting battery than other smartphones and a two-year Android version update courtesy of a partnership with Google.