Rwanda Launches First-Ever Entirely 'Made in Africa' Smartphones

Created by the Mara Group, the smartphones' factory was inaugurated by the country's President.
Fabienne Lang

On Monday, the Mara Group launched two smartphones in Rwanda, and the interesting part of the news is that these are 100% made on the continent. They are the first-ever 'Made in Africa' phones. 

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame inaugurated the event, describing it as Africa's "first high tech smartphone factory."

This is an exciting moment not only for Rwanda but for the continent. 


The two smartphones

The Mara Group — a pan-African business that is headquartered in Dubai, UAE — is behind these innovations.

This week, the Group launched two types of smartphones: the Mara X with 16GB (US$ 130) of storage, and the more advanced Mara Z with 32GB (US$ 190) of storage. 

Both smartphones cost a little higher than the average smartphone currently sold in Rwanda. However, the Group promises that they will deliver "high-quality smartphones at an affordable price."

Both devices are already available for purchase online or at the Mara Group's stores in Kigali, Rwanda's capital. 

Why the desire for entirely regional-made products?

Mara Group is not the first company to boast entirely homemade African smartphones.

Other African companies in Egypt, Ethiopia, Algeria, and South Africa assemble smartphones on the continent; but, the parts are imported from abroad. 

Mara Group CEO, Ashish Thakkar, said: "We are actually the first who are doing manufacturing. We are making the motherboards, we are making the sub-boards during the entire process." He continued, “There are over 1,000 pieces per phone."

The company hopes to profit from the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, a pact that aims to form a 55-nation trade block, in order to push sales across Africa. 

The new factory is a big step forward for Rwanda, which has worked to transform itself into an economic innovation leader. 

Furthermore, President Kagame said he hoped that the new smartphones would boost the country's use of smartphones, which is currently only at 15%

The company's initial target market is the local one. They hope to branch out internationally to other markets in the future. 

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