President Paul Kagame of Rwanda officially opened a smartphone manufacturing plant in the East African country on Monday 7 October 2019. The factory has been built by an African smartphone brand, Mara Phones, which forms part of the Mara Group of companies founded by Ashish J. Thakkar.

The smartphone factory is reported to have the capacity to manufacture (or assemble) more than 2 million smartphones in one calendar year.

β€œProducing smartphones is not a simple matter. Around one thousand individual components are involved. The Mara Phones plant is, therefore, a complex manufacturing operation, requiring significant technical skills and expertise. It is another milestone on our journey to high-tech, β€œmade-in-Rwanda” industry. Our world is changing fast. Keeping pace requires constant innovation. This is the path Rwanda has chosen for our development. The investment by Mara Phones Group is therefore in perfect harmony with our focus on science and technology as the key drivers of our economic transformation.” said Rwanda's President Kagame at the official launch of Mara Phones manufacturing plant.

Mara Phones Factory. Kigali, Rwanda

Second factory in Africa

Mara Phones seems to be on a mission as the Kigali factory is their second on the continent. With the first one being the factory in Durban, South Africa.

Earlier in 2019, Mara Phones announced the commercial availability of their smartphones to the public and confirmed that these were being manufactured in Durban when speaking to iAfrikan. However, the South African plant will only be officially opened on 17 October 2019 at a grand opening which will see President Cyril Ramaphosa in attendance.

Although praised by many as the first such smartphone brand made in Africa, the continent has a long history of smartphone brands with varying levels long before the Mara Phones were announced. These include brands such as MobiCel, AfriOne, and miFone, to name but a few.

Assembly line

What has not been explicitly clear is whether the Mara Phones factory in Kigali is a assembly plant or a manufacturing plant.

There is a big difference between an assembly plant where various parts are imported and assembled together to form a smartphone and a manufacturing plant. Having said that, the opening of the plant in Kigali is a commendable announcement as far as job creation goes and ensuring that Africa participates and benefits from the mobile phone industry supply chain.

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