Mara Group has decided to invest R1.5 billion in cellphone manufacturing plant at the Dube Trade Port Special Economic Zone based in Durban, South Africa. The factory will make the first African made smartphone under the Maraphone brand and will be distributed to various countries in Africa. Mara Group is an African investment group with operations in banking, real estate, infrastructure, and technology. Mara Gorup’s first company was founded by Ashish J. Thakkar in 1996, a Ugandan born entrepreneur and billionaire who began operating the company as a small IT equipment distributor. The company’s growth has been driven by selectively partnering with multinationals and individuals with subject expertise dedicated to expanding in Africa and thus combining global best practice with local knowledge and operational expertise.