Rwanda launches first ‘Made in Africa’ smartphones

KIGALI (Reuters) – Rwanda’s Mara Group has launched two smartphones on Monday, and they describe it as the first “Made-in-Africa – models-and provide an incentive to the ambition to become a regional technology hub.

Employees of the Reserve, X, and Reserve, a to Z smart phones during their launch, due to Rwanda’s Mara Group, in Kigali, Rwanda, from October 7, 2019. REUTERS/Jean Bizimana

The Reserve X-‘m sure Z will make use of Google’s Android operating system, and the costs of 175,750 Rwandan francs ($190) and the 120,250 Rwandan francs ($130), respectively.

They will have to compete with Samsung, which is the cheapest smartphone can cost up to 50,000 Rwandan francs ($54), and a non-branded phones of 35 000 Rwandan francs ($37). Mara, chief executive officer of the Group, Ashish Thakkar, said that it was targeting customers willing to pay a premium for quality.

“This is the first smart phone manufacturer in Africa,” Thakkar told Reuters, after a tour of the company, together with the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame.

Companies to assemble smart phones in Egypt, Ethiopia, sudan, Algeria, South Africa, and the import of components, ” he said.

“We’re actually the first person to do the production. We have to make to the motherboard, we need to make sub-boards, and during the whole process,” he said. “There are more than 1,000 pieces per case.

Thakkar said that the plant had a cost of $24 million, and would be able to make it by 1200 to phones a day.

Mara Group, is hoping to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, a pact aiming at the creation of the 55-nation trade bloc, to boost sales in Africa, Thakkar said.

The contract is due to start in the market in July of the following year, with the goal of bringing 1.3 billion people, and the creation of a $3.4 billion economic bloc. However, it is still in its very early stages and no deadlines have been agreed for elimination of tariffs.

Kagame said he hoped that the phone would be to increase Rwanda’s smartphone use, currently at around 15%.

“Rwandans are already using smart phones, but we want to do a lot more. The establishment of the Reserve, the phones will be smartphones, the property is within reach of Rwandans,” said Kagame.

Edited by: Giulia Paravicini and Mark Potter

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