Millionaire Businessman Ashish Thakkar Launches Rwandan Smartphone Factory Producing African-Made Phones
Mara Group is a Dubai-based, Africa-focused conglomerate with interests in technology, financial services, manufacturing, real estate, and agriculture.
Born in the U.K., Ashish Thakkar, 38, grew up in Rwanda.
A smartphone factory for African-made devices
Mara Phones, a subsidiary of the Mara Group, claims that its phones will be the first completely African-made devices. All the parts used in its devices are produced and assembled at the Rwandan facility.
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“The entire manufacturing process, from the motherboard all the way to the packaging of the phone is done in our newly-opened factory,” Eddy Sebera, Mara’s country manager for Rwanda told CNN.
Mara Phones is producing two smartphone models in Rwanda. The Mara X has 16 gigabytes of storage and is expected to retail for around $130, while the more advanced Mara Z model with 32 gigabytes of storage is expected to sell for around $190, NewTimes reports.
Smartphone penetration in Rwanda is around 15 percent with the most popular Tecno and Samsung models sold for around $40 and $70 respectively.
Samsung leads the African smartphone market with a 36.9 percent market share, followed by Transsion, which makes the popular Tecno phone, with 20.2 percent, according to the International Data Corporation.
Analysts believe that Mara’s higher-priced devices will prevent Mara Phones from competing with established international smartphone brands in Rwanda, AfricanBusinessMagazine reports.
To make the sale more attractive, Mara Phones has partnered with local banks and telecommunications firms, creating a financing model that allows users to pay for their phones over two years, according to Forbes.
Mara Phones is expected to launch its second African factory in South Africa later in October.