Rwanda’s Mara Group launches the first ‘Made in Africa’ smartphones

As part of Rwanda’s bid to become the African continent’s emerging technology hub, Rwandan firm Mara Group has officially launched two new locally-produced smartphones which it is touting as the first ‘Made in Africa’ devices ever produced.

The aptly named Mara X and Mara Z, then, as the devices will be called, will run Android.

Speaking to Reuters, Group CEO Ashish Thakkar quipped that Mara Group is now  “…the first smartphone manufacturer in Africa.”

“We are actually the first who are doing manufacturing”, Thakkar said. “We are making the motherboards, we are making the sub-boards during the entire process. There are over 1,000 pieces per phone.”

Thakkar, abreast Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, clarified that although Egypt, Ethiopia, Algeria, and South Africa do produce smartphones locally, their base components were imported from abroad.

Kagame himself has offered up his hopes that locally produced and manufactured smartphones might stimulate usage amongst Rwandan citizens, saying that “Rwandans are already using smartphones but we want to enable many more. The introduction of Mara phones will put smartphones ownership within reach of more Rwandans”.

Mara Group has claimed its new smartphone plant had costed $24 million USD to build, and had an estiamted output of around 1200 phones per day.

The initiative hopes to benefit from the forthcoming African Continental Free Trade Agreement, which will see 55 African states co-operate in a trade bloc.

In terms of specs, the Mara X supports Android 8 Oreo and features a 5.5″ display, is powered by a Mediatek MT6739 Quad-core ARM Cortex A53 1.5GHz processor, and carries a 5 MP selfie camera and a 13 MP rear camera. The device supports 1 GB RAM, has a  16 GB internal memory, and carries a 3500 mAh battery.

The Mara Z supports Android 8 Oreo Go Edition and features a 5.7″ display, is powered by a Qualcomm MSM8940 Snapdragon 435 chipset, and carries a 13 MP selfie camera and a 13 MP rear camera. The device supports 3 GB RAM, has a  32 GB internal memory, and carries a 3070 mAh battery.

The Mara X is set to cost around 175,750 Rwandan francs ($190 USD), while the Mara Z will retail for 120,250 Rwandan francs ($130 USD), and can be bought online here.