The African Development Bank and its strategy of industrialising Africa has played an important role in developing the continent’s technology sector.
In the world of smartphones, China has Huawei, Korea has Samsung, while the United States of America has Apple.
Long-time dark horse Africa is now taking centre stage with the announcement of the Mara phone project that is touted to take the smartphone business by storm.
Developed by Rwandan businessman and billionaire Ashish Thakkar, the Mara group at the Africa Investment Forum announced ambitious plans to develop manufacturing plants in Rwanda and in South Africa.
During South Africa’s recently held inaugural investment conference, a brainchild of President Cyril Ramaphosa, Thakkar announced that his company would be investing R1.5 billion in a South African venture over the next five years.
Thakkar also said there were further plans 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 improved 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,” he said.
None of the millions of smartphones found worldwide are from Africa, Thakkar said.
“We have a few that are assembled in Africa but nothing is truly being manufactured in Africa. Thanks to the African Development Bank, this will change,” said the businessman.
He said the idea to produce the Mara phone was made possible thanks to the support from the African Development Bank and its strategy of industrialising Africa.
“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,” he said.
“This will truly be transformative. It will create thousands of jobs directly and eventually hundreds of thousands of jobs indirectly in the eco-system across the continent,” Thakkar said.