The first African-made smartphone is set to launch in 2019

By professo

The Founder of Mara Group, Ashish Thakkar, unveiled the first smartphone to ever be entirely made in Africa at the Africa Investment Forum.

During the closing plenary of the event, which was held in Johannesburg, Thakkar introduced a prototype of the Mara Phone.

The entrepreneur commented on the 400 million smartphones that are used across the continent, remarking on how none of them were created in Africa: “We are the consumers, but we're not the value creators.”

“We have a few that are assembled in Africa but nothing is truly being manufactured in Africa. Thanks to the African Development Bank, that changes today.”

Thakkar revealed plans to build manufacturing plants for the smartphones in South Africa and Rwanda.

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Mara Group intends to invest R1.5bn (US$104mn) into the project in South Africa over a span of five years.

“We all know the importance of high quality and affordable smartphones and the impact this can have on the continent. Quality smartphones mean we can truly enable financial inclusion, micro-lending and micro-insurance. This can translate into better education, digital healthcare and agriculture efficiency and improve commerce.”

“If this is all going to be possible… we [need] quality and affordable smartphones. Unfortunately, we have quality smartphones but they are not affordable and if it is affordable, it is not quality.”

In partnership with Google, Mara Group will export and sell the smartphone in Europe.

“This has truly been made possible thanks to the support from the African Development Bank and its strategy of industrialising Africa. We’ll work with them to roll this out and scale it out. We all believe that it is time to shift the narrative, which is why we are also excited that the phone will also be sold in Europe,” Thakkar continued.

“This will truly be transformative. It will create thousands of jobs directly and eventually hundreds of thousands of jobs indirectly in the ecosystem across the continent.”

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