Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame inaugurated Africa’s first high tech smartphone manufacturing factory in the country’s capital Kigali on Monday, reported CNN.
“The Mara Phone joins a growing list of high-quality products that are made in our country,” the president said at the Mara Phones Factory which is situated on the outskirts of Kigali.
Mr. Kagame said the introduction of Mara Phones would put smartphone ownership within reach of more Rwandans. In Rwanda, the current internet penetration rate stands at over 52.1 percent, up from 7 percent in 2011. According to the ministry of ICT and Innovation, phone penetration has grown to over 80.6 percent currently, from 33 percent in 2010.
The Mara Group is a pan-African business headquartered in Dubai. The company said the factory will deliver high quality smartphones at an affordable price.
The smartphone maker launched two smartphones on Monday, describing them as the first “Made in Africa” models. The Mara X and Mara Z will use Google’s Android operating system and cost RWF 175,750 ($190) and RWF 120,250 ($130) respectively. Both phones include features such as high-spec cameras and voice activation mode.
Mara Group CEO Ashish Thakkar said the two smartphones are targeted at customers willing to pay more for quality. The company also has a partnership with local banks and firms that will allow consumers to pay for their phone over two years.
“This is the first smartphone manufacturer in Africa,” Thakkar told Reuters.
He said several other companies assemble smartphones in Egypt, Ethiopia, Algeria, and South Africa, but they import the components.
“We are actually the first who are doing manufacturing,” Thakkar said. “We are making the motherboards, we are making the sub-boards during the entire process. There are over 1,000 pieces per phone.”
He said the plant had cost $24 million and could make 1,200 phones per day.
The devices are immediately available via Mara’s official website and stores in Kigali.