Rwanda launches first 'Made in Africa' smartphones

Rwanda launches first 'Made in Africa' smartphones

Workers display the Mara X and Mara Z smartphones during their launch by Rwanda's Mara Group in Kigali,More

Looking to compete with established worldwide brands like Samsung, iPhone, Tecno, Infinix and many more, Mara Phone promises to give Rwanda all that they are looking for in a smartphone at affordable prices.

"Mara Phones just opened the first high tech, quality, affordable smartphone manufacturing plant in Rwanda", the plant wrote on popular microblogging platform, Twitter.

The Mara phones make use of the Android operating system, and while Mara X's OS is an Android Oreo 8.1 Go Edition, Mara Z is enrolled on the Android One programme which means it has access to all new updates and security patches released by Android. They will compete with Samsung, whose cheapest smartphone costs 50,000 Rwandan francs ($54), and non-branded phones at 35,000 Rwandan francs ($37).

With two models on sale for $159 and $229, the Android phones are hoping to compete with Asian manufacturers like Tecno and Samsung who now dominate Africa's markets.

The Mara X comes with 16GB internal memory and 1GB of RAM at $159 while Mara Z comes with 32GB of internal memory and 3GB of RAM at $229.

The Mara X and Mara Z, are described as the first "Made in Africa" smartphones because they were manufactured on the continent by Africans in a plant set up in Rwanda. There are over 1,000 pieces per phone, " Mr Thakkar added. We are making the motherboards, we are making the sub-boards during the entire process.

Located in Kigali's special economic zone, the factory employees over 200 people to manufacture high-tech smartphones for the local market and further afield. The company also hopes to increase smartphone usage among Rwanda citizens, which is now at 15%.

Paul Kagame gave his thumbs-up to the efforts led by Mara Phones to provide as many Rwandans as possible with smartphones.

"The smartphone is no longer a luxury item, it is rapidly becoming a requirement of everyday life", Paul Kagame said.

He noted that the percentage of Rwandans using smartphones was low, but that the government was gradually dealing with obstacles through such initiatives of Mara group. "The introduction of Mara phones will put smartphones ownership within reach of more Rwandans", Kagame said.

Mara also capitalized on the general goodwill that Rwanda is enjoying in the business community not only in Africa but globally.

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