Smartphones made by Rwandan Tech company, Mara Corporation, will be available on the local and international markets within two months, according to its founder, Ashish Thakkar.
He was speaking at the inaugural Made-in-Africa Leadership Conference in Kigali, which brought together senior executives and business leaders from across the continent.
Thakkar was speaking during a session dubbed, “From trading to legacy-building: Creating lasting products and companies in Africa”.
Among the key issues being discussed at the two-day conference include challenges and opportunities in leading and expanding businesses in Africa, sustainable leadership in SMEs, African leadership in scientific research, financing company growth on the continent, and building a sustainable Pan-African business.
Thakkar said the construction and setting up of the factory, at the Special Economic Zone in Gasabo District in the Kigali Province, are in the final stages.
“The Mara phones factory in Rwanda will employ at least 200 people from day one, 16 per cent of whom will be women,” he said. “This is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Mara has developed a strategy for the next ten years, he said.
The Made-In-Rwanda smartphones are expected to enhance access to digital services and further deepen internet penetration in the country.
The business leader said they will have different models, retailing at varying prices between $100 and $200. He added that some of the phones will be for the Rwandan market while others will be for foreign markets within Africa.
Those designed for other markets elsewhere on the continental, Thakkar said, they will have a Made- in-Africa logo, while those for the local market will bear two logos; Made-in-Rwanda and Made-in-Africa.
Mara Corporation, which owns Banque Populaire du Rwanda (BPR), also has a smartphone factory in South Africa where it invested $100 million, he said.
The smartphones that will soon be manufactured in Rwanda, he said, are “affordable and of high quality.”
Thakkar shared his experience about business growth and expansion, saying he started his first business aged only 15 in 1996.
He told delegates at the meeting that he started out his business with a loan of just $5,000, which he used to start retailing second-hand computers.
His company Mara Corporation has since transformed from a small IT business to a global conglomerate with a presence in 26 African countries and interests across several sectors including technology, manufacturing and financial services.
In 2012, Thakkar was named a young global leader by the World Economic Forum for his success and leadership in driving socioeconomic transformation in Africa.
source: the new times