Rwanda has become the first African country to launch a smartphone when a local company Mara Group unveiled two smartphones on Monday.
The firm described them as the first “Made in Africa” models, giving a boost to the country’s ambitions to become a regional technology hub.
The Mara X and Mara Z will use Google’s Android operating system and cost 175,750 Rwandan francs ($190) and 120,250 Rwandan francs ($130) respectively.
They will compete with Samsung, whose cheapest smartphone costs 50,000 Rwandan francs ($54), and non-branded phones at 35,000 Rwandan francs ($37).
Mara Group CEO Ashish Thakkar said it was targeting customers willing to pay more for quality.
“This is the first smartphone manufacturer in Africa,” Thakkar told Reuters after touring the company alongside Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame.
Companies assemble smartphones in Egypt, Ethiopia, Algeria and South Africa, but import the components, he said.
“We are actually the first who are doing manufacturing. We are making the motherboards, we are making the sub-boards during the entire process,” he said. “There are over 1,000 pieces per phone.”
Thakkar said the plant had cost $24 million and could make 1,200 phones per day.
Mara Group hopes to profit from the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, a pact aimed at forming a 55-nation trade bloc, to boost sales across Africa, Thakkar said.
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