Mara Group introduces high-quality cell phone made in Africa for Africans


The Group has invested in the Maraphone project, which will see factories located in Rwanda and South Africa.

In his address during the State of the Nation (Sona) debate in Parliament in Cape Town on 13 February, KwaZulu-Natal MEC for economic development and tourism Sihle Zikalala said that Mara Group had signed a lease agreement and are proceeding with its plans to invest R1.5 billion into Africa’s first fully-fledged smartphone factory.  

The ‘Maraphone’ factories are to open at Dube TradePort Special Economic Zone (SEZ), which surrounds King Shaka International Airport and in Rwanda. 

According to a statement by the African Development Bank, who will be backing the project, Maraphone will be the first made-in-Africa, full-scale smartphone. 

The initial target market for the phones would be first-time African smartphone users, while the first manufacturing plants are to be located in Rwanda and South Africa. 

At the African Development Bank forum Mara Group CEO Ashish Thakkar (pictured) said: 

“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. We are extremely grateful for the African Development Bank’s push in this sector.”

Dube TradePort CEO Hamish Erskine said that securing the factory is a major deal for Dube TradePort. 

“We have already attracted investments worth R3.2 billion into the entire Dube TradePort SEZ, with the majority of investment going into the manufacturing-focused TradeZone.”

Other investors in the first phase include South Korea’s Samsung (LCD TVs), HBM-SA Health (condoms), Chinese optic cable manufacturer Yangtze Optics Africa Cables, Indian automaker Mahindra’s new semi-knockdown assembly plant, gearbox manufacturer Rossi SA, laundry line manufacturer Retractaline, polypropylene bags maker Tufbag SA, and bearing manufacturer Amsted Reelin.

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