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The Mara Group has opened a new plant in Kigali to manufacture two smartphones, the Mara X and Mara Z.

The next cellphone in your pocket may be devoid of that ubiquitous "Made in China" lettering, opting instead for "Made in Rwanda," as the first-ever smartphone manufacturing plant opened in Kigali yesterday. The plant was launched by the Mara Group and will manufacture two smartphones, the Mara X and Mara Z.


The phones will be built on Android operating systems and are meant to compete with the likes of Samsung and Tecno—the current frontrunners of the African smartphone market. The phones will cost 175,750 Rwandan francs for the X model (about $190) and 120,250 Rwandan francs for the Z (about $130), Reuters reports. It's a lot steeper than what the competitors are offering, with smartphones available at prices as low as 35,000-50,000 Rwandan francs ($37-$54), but the CEO of Mara Group, Ashish Thakkar, says that they are targeting customers who would like a higher quality of smartphone. They have also made a partnership with local banks and firms that will allow consumers to pay for their phone over two years.

Thakkar says the presence of this plant is a step in the right direction for all of Africa to be present in technological and digital innovation and manufacturing, adding that while many companies assemble parts in African countries, they import the components from outside countries. "We are actually the first who are doing manufacturing. We are making the motherboards, we are making the sub-boards during the entire process," Thakkar said.

As Africa Business Magazine quotes him:

"In Africa, we don't manufacture anything. We assemble in a few countries, but we don't manufacture anything. We are the consumers but not the producers. Our true belief in Africa, particularly Rwanda, is a dream come true. This is a historic moment which will help shift the narrative for Rwanda, Africa and the rest of the world."

The plant cost $24 million to build and will employ over 200 workers, making up to 1,200 phones per day, according to Africa Business Magazine. The hope is to improve the accessibility, and perhaps pride, in cell phones across Rwanda where smartphone use is currently at 15%. Rwanda's President Paul Kagame, who was present for the opening of the plant, had this to say about the intentions of the plant and the opportunity he hopes it holds for Rwandans: "The smartphone is no longer a luxury item, it is rapidly becoming a requirement of everyday life. The cost and quality is very important and the introduction of Mara Phones will put smartphone ownership within reach of more Rwandans."

Soon, Rwanda will not be the only African nation manufacturing smartphones locally, as Mara Group has announced that a second manufacturing plant will open in South Africa next week on October 17th.

Rwanda Unleashes First Smartphones Made Entirely in Africa

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Moonchild Sanelly. Image courtesy of the artist.

Emerging Artists: Submit to Be a Part of MIDEM Talent Exporter

The new program will select a group of 22 artists from across the world through an open call for entries.

MIDEM, the music world's leading conference and trade fair that takes place in Cannes, France, has announced their new accelerator program for emerging artists across the globe.

The MIDEM Talent Exporter will select a group of 22 artists from across the world through an open call for entries.

"This live matchmaking format will shine a light on the most promising export-ready talent," a message from MIDEM explains, "and connect them with today's finest international talent buyers, including agents, promoters, festivals, media, PR, curators, music editors and A&R. They will also gain access to 10 music supervisors with the specific objective of building concrete business partnerships."

MIDEM Talent Exporter is born out of the Midem Artist Accelerator, a talent discovery and mentorship program that OkayAfrica has had the opportunity to be a part of. In the past artists like AKA, Bez, Moonchild Sanelly, Tshego, La Dame Blanche, Kyan, and other have been part of the program.

As MIDEM explains, the program gives artists the opportunity to "meet international business partners, be scouted by international festival bookers, find an international booking agent, find local promoters, find local PRs, get your music placed in film, TV, gaming, sign publishing and/or sub-publishing deal(s), sign recording deal(s), integrate music playlists, be spotted and highlighted by international media & journalist," and more.

Emerging artists can submit now for MIDEM Talent Exporter 2020.

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Photo by Kristy Sparow/Getty Images.

Austrian-Nigerian Designer Kenneth Ize Makes Spectacular Debut at Paris Fashion Week

The designer topped off his debut by having supermodel Naomi Campbell walk the runway.

Last night, Austrian-Nigerian fashion designer Kenneth Ize debuted at Paris Fashion week and put on an undeniably spectacular show.

The designer wowed with his Autumn/Winter '20 collection and then topped it all off by having international supermodel Naomi Campbell walk the run way last and bring the show to a close.

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Ami Faku. Image courtesy of artist.

Watch Ami Faku Break Down Her Song ‘Imali’: ‘Many people never get the break they need’

South African soul artist Ami Faku speaks about the inspiration behind her hit 'Imali' on Apple Music's Song Stories.

Ami Faku's hit single "Imali," which is a collaboration between the Eastern Cape-born artist and the duo Blaq Diamond from Durban, is an undeniable hit.

For the latest episode of Apple Music's Song Stories, Ami Faku breaks down the inspiration behind the song.

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Photo by Sally Hayden/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

Bobi Wine Supporter Allegedly Killed by Ugandan Police During a Demonstration

The death comes after chaos ensued when the Ugandan police fired teargas and live ammunition to disperse a crowd of Bobi Wine supporters.

One person has been reported dead after Ugandan police reportedly attempted to disperse a crowd of Bobi Wine's supporters, according to the BBC.

The incident took place yesterday in the capital city of Kampala where the musician-turned-politician was planning to resume his consultative meetings at the Pope Paul Memorial Community Centre in Ndeeba, a neighbourhood in Kampala.

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