Last week, Kenya Insights wrote about Rwanda becoming the first African country to launch a manufacturing plant for smartphones.
According to the production records, the Mara Phone factory commissioned last week on Tuesday by President Paul Kagame in Kigali is expected to manufacture at least 1,200 smartphones daily for sale in Rwanda and abroad.
The Indian founder Ashish Thakkar who is also member of President Paul Kagame’s Presidential Advisory Council stated that the firm is in talks with regional countries including Kenya, DR Congo and Angola to export and sell the Rwanda-made smartphones.
Thakkar had earlier disclosed that the company was scheduled to broaden on the continent and open another factory in South Africa.
Since the official launch, Mara phones sale has increased with at least 30 handsets sold per day between Tuesday last week and today. In the past three months, the shop has sold about 130 phones.
The Mara group established at a cost of over Ksh 5 billion by the Bank of Kigali, the factory directly employs 200 workers 90 per cent of whom are Rwandan and 60 per cent female to work in technology development, production and the assembly lines. The local and foreign engineers, currently work one shift a day.
“Producing smartphones takes about 1,000 individual components in a complex manufacturing operation requiring significant technical skill and expertise,” said Mr Thakkar.
Kenya Insights, due to blocked direct access to the factory floor, can not authoritatively authenticate claims that this is a manufacturing plant.
However, according to a media source, the phones made at the plant are partially manufactured and partially assembled in Rwanda.
“They make the motherboards in Rwanda using about 1,000 raw materials while the rest of the handset is assembled using imported parts,” the source told The EastAfrican.
The factory is divided into different sections for technology development, production and assembly lines. The factory, so far, makes two phone models the Mara X and Mara Z retailing for Sh 13, 000 and Sh19,000 respectively.
The Mara Z is a dual sim phone with a storage capacity of 32GB and memory of 3GB, while the Mara X is also a dual sim with 16GB space and 1GB memory. Both models are pre-installed with Google’s Android operating system.
“I want to emphasise that this is a manufacturing facility and not an assembling plant,’’ Thakkar, the Indian founder of Mara group talked down the assembling allegations.
As i had noted in the previous article, Mara Group has direct links with Equity Bank and the Bank has deep connections in the country, this is almost a done deal. Whether is good or bad for business time will tell. Rwanda is not a welcoming country for businesses runned and operated by foreigners. How our country will prioritize their products and sit down and watch locally produced laptops collapse with many Kenyan tech minds careers is what Kenyans should use when making next electoral decisions. And on Equity why are your wings flying away from Kenyan innovations!?
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