Rwanda is set to open a smart phone manufacturing factory this April with intention to produce locally made phones that will meet the demands of the continent and export to Europe and other continents.
The Rwandan government is partnering with the Pan African technology company-Mara Group to make this possible. Mara Phones as they will be known will be one of the earlier devices to run on the Android Oreo Operating System (OS) optimized for some applications with lesser data consumptions like the Facebook Lite, Twitter Lite and YouTube Go etc. According to Face 2 Face Africa, this comes “after 22 years of dealing in a variety of technology products through Mara Group”.
In a recent meeting at the East African country’s parliament, Rwanda’s Minister for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Innovation, Paula Ingabire made this announcement to the Committee on Education, Technology, Culture and Youth.
According to the Minister, “Smartphones are important ICT tools since there are some digital services that only require smartphones, such as access to land services among others. There is also a need to ensure affordability of smartphones whose high cost prevents citizens from benefiting from various digital services. We hope that the plant to locally produce smartphones will boost access.
“Once the factory starts producing smartphones, people will be paying in installments over a period of 24 months. We also have to work with telecommunication companies to seek ways of reducing prices on internet use, which will boost ICT penetration and digital services.”
It will be recalled that the first unveiling was in 2016 at the World Economic Forum (WEF) with President Paul Kagame in attendance at the group’s BPR Atlas Mara brand reveal in Kigali. Kagame who served as Chair of the African Union this past year has been lauded for many positive innovative and economic strides.
Mara Corporation chief, Ashish Thakkar made this even more public few months back at the Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg when a sample of the phone was revealed and quoted by The African Exponent to say “China has Huawei, Xiaomi; the U.S has iPhone and finally Africa has Maraphone. This project will show the potential and ability that Africa can produce high quality and affordable smartphones in Africa, by Africans, for Africans and for the rest of the world. We have a few that are assembled in Africa but nothing is truly being manufactured in Africa”. He revealed further that this is being made possible with the assistance of the African Development Bank (AFDB), stating that plants will be situated at Rwanda, South Africa and across other African countries.
The first set of phones are expected to become available for sale soon after factories have been opened this April.
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