Mara Phone: A look at the proudly South African smartphone

Mara Phones will roll out 200 Mara stores across South Africa. Part of the revenue from sales will be earmarked for youth empowerment, women empowerment and job empowerment.

The Kigali manufacturing plant in Rwanda is the first of its kind to manufacture smartphones on the continent. While many phones are produced in Africa, they are primarily assembled with parts sourced from overseas.

A boost to South Africa and the continent

Speaking to reporters at the Investment Forum back in 2018, Chief Executive of Mara, Ashish Thakkar explained the importance of high quality and affordable smartphones, as well as the impact it can have on Africa:

“Quality smartphones mean we can truly enable financial inclusion, micro-lending and micro-insurance. This can translate into better education, digital healthcare and agriculture efficiency and improve commerce.”

To achieve all of the above, we need “quality and affordable smartphones”. He said that we have quality smartphones in Africa, but they are unfortunately not affordable.

Thakkar was pleased with the speed at which the plant took shape due to the assistance from the government. He said:

“This our first investment in South Africa and it has been phenomenal. We are proud to contribute to South Africa’s fourth industrial revolution. The project has happened in record time due to support form the government. Let’s celebrate Africa and South Africa”.

Proudly SA chief executive Eustace Mashimbye hailed the initiative as an opportunity to become a competitor when the 4 million smartphones sold in 2017 reach the end of their life cycle and need to be replaced.

Job creation

The Mara Phones factory will initially employ 313 workers which is planned to increase to 1 369 over five years. The plant is currently staffed with 200 formerly unemployed engineers.

Of these, over 90 percent of them are made up of youth and two thirds are women.

Affordability

The Mara brand launched two models, the Mara X and Mara Z. The devices are described as “affordable and with a long-lasting battery, immense storage and a two-year Android version update”.

The Android version is delivered through a partnership with Google and its Android One programme.

Optimistic despite set backs

Despite the opening unfortunately coinciding with the return of load shedding in South Africa for the first time since March, Thakkar was upbeat about the opening of the factory.

“It is Africa, South Africa and Mara’s dream that has been fulfilled. We have finally launched smartphone factor that will create jobs for South Africans. It is high tech manufacturing in South Africa by South Africans,” said Thakkar.

Cyril Ramaphosa opens Mara Phone plant

Cyril Ramaphosa opened up South Africa’s first smartphone manufacturing plant at the Dube tradeport in Durban on Thursday, just a week after the company opened their first smartphone plant in Rwanda last week as well.

The plant represents one of the first of Cyril Ramaphosa’s promised investments from last year’s investment conference drive. President Ramaphosa hailed the plant as a sign of South Africa’s investment potential:

“At the investment conference, the chief executive of Mara Phones Ashish Thakkar was willing to set up the factory at the Dube TradePort. The smartphone plant is an outstanding world-class facility. The facility is equal or even better than smartphone factories. With the launch of the smartphone factory we have made history. The launch of the plant shows that South Africa is indeed a place where people should invest”.

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Source: https://www.thesouthafrican.com/

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