The first smartphone manufacturing facility in South Africa was recently opened in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal by Mara Phones.
Mara Phones builds South African smartphones which run Google’s Android operating system and are designed to compete with international handset manufacturers.
So far, the factory will produce two devices that will be sold to South Africans – the Mara X and the Mara Z.
The local manufacturer has big plans, however, and aims to expand its hardware lineup as well as its local presence.
MyBroadband spoke to Mara Phones CEO Ashish Thakkar about the company’s plans going forward.
Retail and physical stores
The Mara Z and Mara X are currently only available for purchase from the Mara Phones website, but distribution will expand in the near future.
Thakkar said that Mara Phones is speaking to local mobile operators and has big plans to launch dedicated brick-and-mortar stores across the country.
“We are in the process of partnering with various telecom operators and large retailers so they should all be having the stock quite soon too,” Thakkar told MyBroadband.
“Mara Phones is in the also in the process of opening Mara Experience Stores in various parts of South Africa.”
“Over 200 Mara Experience Stores will be opened commencing in Q1 2020, on its own and through franchisees,” he said.
These stores will allow customers to purchase devices, interact with technical staff to resolve any issues, and learn more about the company’s different devices.
Mara Phones also plans to announce partnerships with local networks in the near future.
“We are in the final stages of negotiations with mobile operators and announcements of these partnerships will be made soon,” Thakkar said.
Mara Phones’ lineup of two smartphones is set to expand next year – but for now, the company is focused on getting its current devices into the market and building its local presence.
“R&D is a critical part of our operations and we are constantly working on new ways of solving the needs of Mara Phones users,” Thakkar said.
“There will be new models in the future, for now, we are focused on getting Mara X & Mara Z into the market.”
Both of these devices boast long-lasting batteries, impressive storage space, and Android One compatibility, according to the company.
Thakkar said that next year, Mara Phones would launch next-generation versions of its current smartphones which will be called the Mara Z1 and Mara X1.
“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,” Thakkar said.
“We are an African brand, Made in Africa, made by Africans for Africa and the rest of the world.”