Mara Group has launched the first Mara Phone factory in Rwanda which will make African based smartphones for the African continent. The models to be manufactured are known as Mara X and Mara Z which will have features such as fast battery charging, Google’s AndroidOne operating system, gorilla glass and the latest facial recognition and finger print security features.
The factory site is within the Kigali special economic zone and will employ over 200 people. Smartphone penetration in Rwanda is in the region of 15% providing an open market for new players, though price per phone weighs heavily on performance given the lower middle class classification of the population in East Africa.
The next Mara Phone factory is still expected to be opened in South Africa in 2019 after the country missed the opportunity to hold the first smartphone factory expected to cost R1.5billion. The plant will be at the Dube Trade Port Special Economic Zone based in Durban, South Africa. Mara Group is an African investment group with operations in banking, real estate, infrastructure, and technology. Mara Group’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.