Mara Group, founded by Ashih J. Thakkar, has announced the availability of its Mara Phones range of smartphones for purchase by consumers. The smartphones have been, and are being, manufactured in Durban, South Africa since 2018.

Ashish J. Thakkar, Founder of the Mara Group, initially announced the company's intentions to build affordable smartphones in South Africa during the inaugural South Africa Investment Conference convened by South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa in 2018.

"The first high specification, affordable smartphone manufactured in Africa, Mara Phones is committed to enhancing and enriching the lives of the people of Africa. Manufacturing in Africa enables job creation and also making the smartphone more affordable to all, contributing to business and development on the continent. Manufactured in Africa, ready for the global market!" reads a statement by Mara Group.

The Mara X smartphone which is manufactured in Durban, South Africa and comes with Android 8.1 Oreo, 16GB standard storage, a fingerprint sensor, and a 13MP back camera.

Mara have said that the smartphones will come in two versions, Mara X (recommended retail price: $139.00) and Mara Z (recommended retail price: $199.00).

Manufacturing smartphones in Afrika

The availability of the new Mara smartphones comes on the back of an announcement by Paula Ingabire, Rwanda's Minister for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Innovation, earlier in February 2019, that Mara will be opening a smartphone manufacturing plant in Rwanda during April 2019. Making it the second such plant after the one that is currently up and running in Durban, South Africa.

It's important to highlight that Mara will not be the first to manufacture smartphones in Afrika for the Afrikan market. There are several examples and one such notable example is AfriOne in Nigeria. AfriOne opened it mobile phones manufacturing plant in Lagos, Nigeria during 2017, with a reported capacity to manufacture 300,000 devices per month.

Importance of Afrikan manufactured smartphones

During the initial announcement by Thakkar at the 2018 South African Investment Conference, he highlighted the importance of having mobile phones in Afrika.

β€œMara is extremely excited to be investing $100 million in South Africa in the first high tech, high quality affordable smartphhones, in South Africa. As an African brand, as an African company, made in Africa, made by Africans, it’s time we create these jobs on our continent,” said Thakkar.

The smartphone industry has numerous brands that consumers are already familiar with including Afrikan brands such as Mi-Fone. What will likely prove critical to the success of Mara Phones is its partnerships with telecommunications companies as well as its marketing efforts to convince consumers that theirs is the brand of smartphone to buy.

Interested consumers can currently buy the Mara smartphones through the Mara Phones website.

Cover image credit: Mara X and Mara Z smartphones. Mara Phones.

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