By Oluwadamilare Akinpelu | November 20, 2018
African technology business company, Mara Corporation has announced the coming of its new product, the Maraphone – a Made-in-Africa full-scale smartphone. This was made known by the group’s founder, Ashish Thakkar, during the closing session of the recently concluded Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Set for roll out in 2019, the Maraphones (Mara X and Mara Z), are a first-of-its-kind in the history of Africa. This is because they will be manufactured on the continent by Africans in plants set up across the continent.
The Maraphone is expected to be a high quality and affordable products designed to primarily serve the population of Africa and possible exportation to other parts of the world. This is going to be achieved with support from the African Development Bank (AFDB) in 2019.
For example, the Mara X will be launched as part of Google’s Android One portfolio, getting a software experience as well as the the latest innovations from Google. It will also run on the latest operating system, Android 8.0 Oreo, will get two years of OS upgrade and will be optimized for the Google Assistant.
“China has Huawei, Xiaomi; the U.S has iPhone and finally Africa has Maraphone. This project will show the potential and ability that Africa can produce high quality and affordable smartphones in Africa, by Africans, for Africans and for the rest of the world” Thakkar said.
This is quite an interesting development because while global manufacture of phones is on the rise and expected to hit a billion in the next few years, none of them are produced on the continent. This makes Africa a consuming continent as far as smartphones are concerned. But with Maraphones, that is about to change.
The initial target market for the phones would be first-time African smart phone users. The first manufacturing plants are to be located in Rwanda and South Africa, with a $104 million investment into the project in South Africa in a space of five years.
On his part, President of AFDB, Akinwunmi Adesina said, “By 2020, the value of Africa’s mobile money industry is projected to top $14 billion. We need African-developed mobile phones to leverage this potential. Africa is bold, strong and innovative. Africa’s time is now.”