Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Monday presided over the launch of the Mara Phones manufacturing plant in Kigali to improve access to digital services.
The factory, the first of its kind in Africa, assembles smartphones in Rwanda and is operated by the Mara Group.
The smartphone, dubbed the Maraphone, is the first high specification, affordable smartphone manufactured in Africa.
The phone has a warranty & can be purchased in installments over two years.
According to the Mara Group, the Maraphone will produce high quality and affordable smartphones to primarily serve the population of Africa and also with the aim to export to other continents such as Europe.
President Kagame said that the first “Made-in-Rwanda” smartphones had already rolled off the assembly line last week.
He hailed the plant as another milestone in the East Africa nation’s journey to becoming a high-tech “made-in-Rwanda” industry.
“The Mara Phone joins a growing list of high-quality products that are made in our country. Producing smartphones is not a simple matter. Around one thousand individual components are involved as we have been taken through the whole process,” President Kagame said.
Kagame acknowledged that the smartphone was no longer a luxury item and was fast becoming a necessity of everyday life.
“In Rwanda, we have Irembo which is already citizens’ primary gateway for many public services. Integration of Irembo into Mara Phones is an innovative feature,” Kagame said.
The percentage of Rwandans who are using smartphones is low, according to the Rwandan government which hopes to put more devices within reach of the population.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) estimates that the value of Africa’s mobile money industry is projected to reach $14 billion by 2020.