The Rwanda-based Mera group has made good on its promise and have finally opened the first phone manufacturing plant in South Africa.
With this, South Africa might be taking the first step in its efforts to revive the country’s sluggish economy as this would create much-needed employment.
The venture will generate hundreds of high-skilled direct jobs and thousands of indirect jobs, It will also contribute to the transfer of technology and high-tech knowledge in South Africa.
South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa, as part of the recently launched District-Based Development Model, will later this week launch the Mara Phone Plant at Dube Trade Port in KwaZulu-Natal.
Mara group founder and Chief Executive Officer, Ashish Thakkar, announced in November last year during South Africa’s inaugural Africa Investment that his company would invest R1.5 billion in a South African business venture over the next five years and just 11 months later the company made that statement a reality.
Addressing reporters last year in an investment forum, Ashish said the company is looking to develop the phone in plants across the continent’s five regions.
“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,”
The modern state-of-the-art plant, with an annual production capacity of over 1.2 million handsets, is expected to manufacture two models of smartphones the Mara X and Mara Z with plans to launch an upgraded version every year.
Mara phones took to its Twitter account to say that more than 60% of the staff at the plant are women while 90% of the workforce will be youth.
The production is expected to serve the domestic market as well as the regional market, especially the SADC region, contributing to strategies that position South Africa as the gateway to Africa.
Given the location of the operations, Mara Phones will be designated as a local product once production commences.
The promotion will be conducted through a mix of traditional and digital/online media while utilising local platforms to influence local markets.
The phones are expected to be listed on commerce sites such as Jumia, Konga, and Amazon. The company also plans to sell the phones via retail partnerships with telecom operators Vodafone, MTN and Airtel.