Adesina and Thakkar showing off the Mara smartphone, which is the continent's answer to the global telecoms market. Source: SANews

In the world of smartphones, China has Huawei, Korea has Samsung, while the United States of America has Apple. And soon South Africa will have Mara!

Adesina and Thakkar showing off the Mara smartphone, which is the continent’s answer to the global telecoms market. Source: SANews

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, Thakkar announced that his company would be investing R1.5 billion in a South African venture over the next five years.

At a media briefing on Friday morning in Sandton, Thakkar said: “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.”

He pointed out that right now in Africa quality smartphones are not affordable, and affordable smartphones are not of quality.

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, that changes today,” said the businessman.

Thakkar said the Mara smartphone will be the first high-quality, affordable smartphone to be made on the continent.

The phones will also be exported and sold in Europe, making Mara a global player in the market. The project is in partnership with Google.

“This will truly be transformative. It will create thousands of jobs directly and eventually hundreds of thousands of jobs indirectly in the ecosystem across the continent,” Thakkar said.

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