Rwanda has opened Africa’s first smartphone manufacturing plant in the capital, Kigali, in an event attended by President Paul Kagame.
Manufactured by technology company Mara Group – the Mara X and Mara Z smartphones – will use Google’s Android operating system and cost 175,750 Rwandan francs ($190; £155) and 120,250 Rwandan francs ($130;£106) respectively.
“This is the first smartphone manufacturer in Africa,” Mara Group CEO Ashish Thakkar told news agency Reuters during a tour of the plant on Monday.
The company was targeting customers willing to pay more for quality, Mr Thakkar said.
But most phones sold in Africa are from Chinese companies, which offer dual SIM cards and are cheaper than Mara’s planned price point.
President #Kagame on the launch of @MaraPhones: The smartphone is no longer a luxury item. It is rapidly becoming a requirement of everyday life. That trend is bound to increase in the years to come, as more and more services migrate to digital platforms.https://t.co/ClzcTwYJlb pic.twitter.com/rLfcdiGlvT
— The New Times (Rwanda) (@NewTimesRwanda) October 8, 2019
Companies assemble smartphones in Egypt, Ethiopia, Algeria and South Africa, but import the components, Mr Thakkar said.
“We are actually the first who are doing manufacturing. We are making the motherboards, we are making the sub-boards during the entire process… There are over 1,000 pieces per phone,” he added.
He said the plant had cost $24m and could make 1,200 phones per day.
President Paul Kagame said he hoped the phone would increase Rwanda’s smartphone usage, currently at around 15%.