It feels good to hear this. Isn’t it?
Mara Corporation, an African technology business came to the recently concluded Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa to re-announced the coming of its new product, the Maraphone.
In the world of smartphones, China has Huawei, Korea has Samsung, while the United States of America has Apple. Mara’s CEO said Africa will have Maraphone.
Set for roll out in 2019, the Maraphones (Mara X and Mara Z), are a first-of-its-kind in the history of Africa. This is because they will be manufactured on the continent by Africans in plants set up across the continent.
The Maraphone is expected to be a high quality and affordable products designed to primarily serve the population of Africa and possible exportation to other parts of the world. This is going to be achieved with partnership of Google and support from the African Development Bank (AFDB) in 2019.
The Mara X will be launched as part of Google’s Android One portfolio, getting a software experience as well as the the latest innovations from Google. It will also run on the latest operating system, Android 8.0 Oreo, will get two years of OS upgrade and will be optimized for the Google Assistant.
This is quite an interesting development because while global manufacture of phones is on the rise and expected to hit a billion in the next few years, none of them are produced on the continent. This makes Africa a consuming continent as far as smartphones are concerned. But with Maraphones, that is about to change.
The initial target market for the phones would be first-time African smart phone users. The first manufacturing plants are to be located in Rwanda and South Africa, with a $104 million investment into the project in South Africa in a space of five years.
President of AFDB, Akinwunmi Adesina said, “By 2020, the value of Africa’s mobile money industry is projected to top $14 billion. We need African-developed mobile phones to leverage this potential. Africa is bold, strong and innovative. Africa’s time is now.”
*Text for this report is taken from technext.ng
However a COMESA Regional Investment Agency report quoting the Ghanaian Times had earlier in mid-October 2018 reported that an Egyptian Company, Silicon Industries Corporation (SICO), which already exports locally made smartphones to the Gulf, aims to start selling phones in Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Nigeria and Mozambique.
The report says SICO which was set up last year with capital of 150 million Egyptian pounds ($8.4 million), sells phones under the brand name Nile X.
For me whether it is Nile X or Mara X that debuted in Africa will not matter. What matters is that African businesses are coming up to share their own market with foreign brands. And that the breakthrough will, hopefully, not end in announcements.