By Chris Zumani Zimba
Although criticized by many human rights defenders for shrinking the political and democratic space in his country, President Paul Kagame has been hailed globally for steering massive development and rapid modernization in Rwanda. After emerging out of a historical genocide in 1994, Rwanda has enjoyed rapid economic growth and gained a reputation as a hub of innovation. By challenging and competing with huge multinational companies for global visibility, Rwanda is now a known brand sponsor of English premier league side-Arsenal, a big statement of taking African tourism to the global community.
On 7th October, 2019, President Kagame inaugurated what is being described as Africa’s “first high tech smartphone factory” in the country’s capital Kigali.
“The Mara Phone joins a growing list of high-quality products that are made in our country,” the president said at the Mara Phones Factory which is situated on the outskirts of Kigali. The Mara Group, a pan-African business headquartered in Dubai, says the factory will deliver “high quality smartphones at an affordable price.”
Mara is producing two types of smartphone in Rwanda: The Mara X with 16GB storage space will retail for 120,250 francs ($130), while the more advanced Mara Z model with 32GB storage is on sale for around 175,750 francs ($190), the company said. Both phones include features such as high-spec cameras and voice activation mode. The devices are immediately available via Mara’s website and stores in Kigali.
In previous versions of what could be called ‘made-in-Africa’ in terms of smartphone, it is important to stress that factories in Africa merely assembled parts of phones made overseas or merely included imported phone parts.
Empirically, the launch of the Mara Phone Factory in Kagali is another milestone and exceptional achievement for both President Pual Kagame’s leadership, Rwandans and Africa as a continent. In describing the factory, President Kagame noted it as a “complex manufacturing operation requiring significant technical skill and expertise. It is another milestone on our journey to a high tech ‘Made in Rwanda’ industry”, he concluded. This gesture could be summarized as part of ‘Africa arise’ statement, which is commendable example to all African leaders and citizens.
Chris Zumani Zimba is a prolific Zambian Political Scientist, Policy Analyst, Author, Blogger, PhD Scholar, Researcher, Consultant, Public Health and Tobacco Control Advocate. So far, he has authored more than 10 political and academic books as well as published over 100 well researched articles. Chriszumanizimba.firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com; +260 973 153 815 for calls or WhatsApp. This article is made possible by Centre for Multiple Democracies, Good Governance and Peace (MDGGP) under Chrizzima Democracy University (CDU). But the views are attributed to the author and not CDU.