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Mara's 'Made in Africa' SA smartphone factory set to open in Durban

Mara Group said the plant was set to produce just over 1.2 million smartphone handsets annually.

Mara smartphones. Picture: maraphones.com

DURBAN - President Cyril Ramaphosa will on Thursday morning launch Africa’s second smartphone manufacturing plant in Durban.

The Mara phone is developed and produced on the continent. Its first manufacturing plant was opened in Kigali, Rwanda, just over a week ago. Mara Group launched two smartphones two weeks ago, describing them as the first “Made in Africa” models. In South Africa, the Durban plant is expected to create over 1,500 jobs.

The launch of the Mara phone’s Durban plant follows pledges made at last year's investment summit by Ramaphosa.

Founder and CEO of the Mara Group Ashish Thakkar pledged an investment of just over R1.5 billion to manufacture Africa’s first smartphone and it seems he has kept his promise.

The Rwandan entrepreneur has reportedly already pumped just over R700 million into the Durban plant, which is based at the Dube Tradeport.

Reuters reported two weeks ago that Thakkar "hoped to profit from the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, a pact aimed at forming a 55-nation trade bloc, to boost sales across Africa".

The agreement is due to begin trading in July next year, aiming to unite 1.3 billion people and create a $3.4 trillion economic bloc. But it is still in the very early stages and no timelines have been agreed for abolishing tariffs.

Mara Group's website said the plant was set to produce just over 1,2 million smartphone handsets annually.

The company said the staff complement at the Durban plant would comprise 90% youth and 60% women.