Mara Phones recently opened the first smartphone manufacturing facility in South Africa, located in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.
The manufacturing plant is the result of a R1.5-billion investment by Mara Phones that was supported by the government, with the opening being attended by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
From this facility, the company is building South African-made Android smartphones which aim to compete with existing players like Huawei and Samsung.
So far, the factory will be producing two devices – the Mara X and the Mara Z.
These devices are described as having long-lasting batteries, immense storage space, and Android One compatibility – which means they are guaranteed to receive Android updates for two years.
MyBroadband spoke to Mara Phones CEO Ashish Thakkar about the competition faced by the company in the South African smartphone market and its plans going forward.
Competing with Huawei and Samsung
When asked about the company’s plans to compete with Huawei and Samsung, Thakkar told MyBroadband that Mara Phones would offer unique products catered specifically to the South African market.
“Mara Phones is entering into an existing market with existing competition,” Thakkar said.
“What sets Mara Phones apart is a range of innovative services and solutions that are crafted for specific user groups such as banks, telecoms, and large retailers.”
One of these services is the Mara Phone Lock, which allows operators and retailers to sell phones on payment terms securely by enabling them to remotely lock the device when a customer defaults on their payment.
“The phone lock can be lifted once the customer has caught up with their payment obligations. This is one such example of innovative solutions made for bespoke user profiles.”
Thakkar added that local production is important, as it results in the creation of jobs.
“The investment in South Africa by Mara Phones has already created almost 200 jobs, of which over 60% are women and over 90% are skilled and previously-unemployed youth,” Thakkar said.
“Mara Phones South Africa is expected to generate about 1,500 direct jobs over a period of six years and thousands of indirect jobs, which will contribute to the reduction in unemployment, enhance the transfer of high-tech knowledge in South Africa and help in boosting the South African economy.”
He said this will result in import replacement and a shift in the production of new technology to local companies.
“It is high time South Africa creates jobs in the process of increasing smartphone penetration, and we are confident everyone from companies and consumers will be hugely supportive of this.”
“We hope that Mara Phones will help shift the narrative and mindsets by demonstrating that South Africans and Africans at large can produce high tech quality products that are of global standards and that our companies and consumers value and will support this.”