Recently, Mara Phones proudly inaugurated the first smartphone manufacturing facility in South Africa, located in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. With a plan to launch high quality smart phones for South African users, the brand has started off with two models, the Mara X and Mara Z.
The phones will be manufactured in both the Rwandan and South African units and will be marked by the lion logo. They are being labelled as the world’s first “Made in Africa” smartphones.
At the SA Investment Forum last year, Mara phones CEO Ashish Thakkar had promised a R1.5bn investment in South Africa by opening a high-tech smartphone manufacturing facility. When President Cyril Ramaphosa opened the state of the art facility last week, the promise was fulfilled.
While other brands have successfully assembled smartphones in Africa, all of them buy parts from China and other non-African countries. Mara is the first brand to step out of that mould.
In his speech the President hoped that this will build confidence among investors and pave the way for further investments in South Africa. “We are working in partnership with business, labour and civil society to unlock growth, create jobs and build an inclusive economy,” he said.
The plant is expected to generate 1500 direct jobs in the coming six years. Thakkar also mentioned that 60% of the about 200 current employees were women, while more than 90% were skilled youths.
The brand plans to roll out 200 Mara stores across South Africa in the coming days. As a part of their brand philosophy, a section of the revenue generated from the sales will be used for youth empowerment, women empowerment and job empowerment.
“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.
Earlier, Rwanda President Paul Kagame described Mara Groups’ new facility in the country as Africa’s “first high tech smartphone factory”. The facility is expected to boost Rwanda’s goal of becoming a hub for the tech industry.
Both the newly launched smartphones are being marked as “affordable and with a long-lasting battery, immense storage and a two-year Android version update”. The company has also partnered with Google to use Android One in the phones. Even though both the phones have similar designs and features, the Mara Z is slightly larger and has higher-end hardware.
As per the company website, the Mara X is priced at $159 and the Mara Z is priced at $229.