Updated: Mar 25
The African smartphone is here. On October 7th and 17th Maraphone, the first commercial smartphone manufactured and sold in Africa by Africans, launched their Rwandan and South African manufacturing plants. The first Maraphone Z was unboxed by Prince Akpah, in Rwanda at the official debut. With glee he shared the moment on his Instagram page(@akpahprince). He unboxed the phone for the public eye at the Youth Connekt Africa Summit in Kigali, Rwanda. Highly elated to be the first Ghanaian to unbox his new Maraphone Z, he was proud to present a product developed, manufactured and distributed by his fellow brothers and sisters.
This is the beginning of a new tale, a tale where Africans can finally tell their truth through their own voices, with pride. We were fortunate enough to get in touch with the director of the Maraphone Corporation/Foundation, Rona Kotecha. Rona willingly shared this beautiful tale of how the continent of Africa has its first Android One phone.
Photo Credit Maraphone X and Maraphone Z
· Where did the Maraphone come from?
Mara Phones are manufactured in Kigali, Rwanda and Durban, South Africa.
· Who else is behind Maraphone?
Mara Phones is part of the Mara Corporation.
· What was the evolution from the first time the Maraphone was conceived until now? previous iterations?
The R&D has taken a very long time to evolve from an idea into the current models, Mara X and Mara Z and this is a constant ongoing process.
· Can you tell us more about the Corning gorilla glass, and why the company found it to be a necessary feature on the phone?
We wanted to have the best quality features that are also durable integrated into the offering.
· What type of manufacturing issues are unique to an African company?
Doing high-tech manufacturing is critical for us as Africa to progress and become self-sustainable in the long run.
· Why has there not been an African smartphone before now?
It is assumed there are a lot of challenges in terms of high tech manufacturing on the continent. There are some assembly plants but doing the full process is very costly and complex.
· How cheaply can you produce the phone in comparison to its closest competitor?
We are focused on providing a high quality at an affordable price this includes innovative solutions on payment terms, etc.
· Tech companies are notorious for having demanding work environments, what work environment or culture exists at Maraphone?
Mara Phones provide a great working environment and also enables individuals to learn new skills and constant training programs.
· Where do you find talent for your new tech company?
We partnered with vocational and other educational institutions and in some cases we used local recruitment companies to assist in our search for talent.
· What is the cost per unit?
This varies on model, scale, shifts, etc (currently ranging from USD 130-190).
· Is the Maraphone more like an iPhone or an android? Mara Phones has a strategic partnership with Google hence all our phones are Android, Mara Z is also listed under the Android One program.
· What is your strategy for growth?
We believe it is our time. As an African company, made in Africa, made by Africans for Africa and the rest of the World. We are already appointing distributors globally.
Similar to the exclamations the Maraphone inspires within Prince Akpah's follower network, the African continent is experiencing a transformation its identity and within global markets. Technologies, businesses and agricultural developments serve purpose to ensure a positive impacts on communities. These phones are not "just" phones, these are catalysts, coordinates, if you will to navigate and reshape an inclusive tech and business environment for all consumers.
· Last year, a Statista report showed that Apple produced 227 million phones worldwide, and this year we learned that Samsung has over 22% of the market share for cell phones, how do you match and compete and outperform against these industry giants?
Everyone started somewhere, this is our start.
"Create, Don't Hesitate. "