Rwanda’s ambitious plans to build a knowledge economy powered by technology and science, are inspiring many to dream of a ‘Made in Africa’ age.
Two weeks ago, the East African country recorded yet another milestone when the Mara Phones company launched the first ever ‘Made in Africa’ smartphones.
The Mara X and Mara Z phones, which cost $190 and $130 respectively, are made in Rwanda at the company’s $24 million facility.
We are dedicated to contributing to the Rwandan and African economies through producing high quality smartphones.
‘‘We are dedicated to contributing to the Rwandan and African economies through job creation, skills development, producing high quality smartphones and providing value additive solutions which will enable a thriving digitally included Africa,’‘ said Ashish J. Thakkar CEO Mara Phones.
Rwanda’s tech strides
In July last year, software development training firm Andela signed an agreement with the Rwandan government, offering six months of paid training to 500 Rwandans.
In November 2018, China’s Alibaba partnered with Rwanda to establish Africa’s first electronic world trade platform.
In August this year, German car manufacturer Volkswagen opened the country’s first car plant and said it would be testing a new car-sharing and ride-hailing business model.
The country is also home to a Latin American company Positivo BGH which makes and sells laptops ‘proudly made in Africa’.
Rwanda’s technology charms have attracted top tech players, as its hosted Alibaba’s Jack Ma and top events like the Africa Tech Summit and the GSMA Mobile 360 Africa.
Rwanda’s tech ambitions
At the launch of the Mara Phones, president Paul Kagame reiterated his country’s commitment to harness science, technology and innovation as key drivers of economic transformation.
Rwanda has implemented pro-business laws that include a lenient visa policy, free workspaces for entrepreneurs and a quick registration process. It is ranked 29th in the World Bank’s 2019 Ease of Doing Business report.
Other African countries seem determined to emulate Rwanda, and use technology make the ‘Made in Africa’ dream a reality. Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya and South Africa have car manufacturing ambitions while Egypt, Ethiopia, Algeria and South Africa also make phones, although they still import parts from abroad.READ MORE: Rooting for Africa’s homegrown carmakers @danmumbere