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Rwanda Unleashes First Smartphones Made Entirely in Africa

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.

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"Our Lady of the Nile" image courtesy of TIFF.

These 'Hidden Gems' From Africa & the Diaspora are Now Showing at TIFF

Here are 12 films from across the diaspora to check out before the Toronto International Film Festival ends.

The Toronto International Film Festival, one the largest international film festivals in the world, is currently underway in Canada's largest metropolis.

As with previous years. the festival sees some of the biggest names in the industry gather for premieres of the most noteworthy films released this year, as well as screenings of older titles. Amongst these standout titles are several from filmmakers from African and the diaspora.

READ: The OkayAfrica Guide to Getting Your Movie Into Film Festivals

The folks at TIFF have compiled a list of films that they consider to be "hidden gems" on this year's program and we've chosen twelve of them to highlight below. These exciting features and short films come from filmmakers from a number of countries, including Tunisia, Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria and more.

Read more about each selection below, with descriptions and images from TIFF.

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Rwanda has Agreed to Take in Thousands of Libyan Migrants

While South Africa is using violence to force migrants out, Rwanda is doing the exact opposite.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Refugee Agency and the African Union (AU), signed a memorandum yesterday which stated that refugees and asylum seekers currently being held in detention centers in Libya, will be transported and handed over to the Rwandan government for protection. The UNHCR reports that as many as 4700 migrants, who are trying to escape conflict and political turmoil in their own countries by escaping to Europe via Libya, are currently living under inhuman conditions in the Libyan detention centers. In July of this year, 44 migrants were killed while 130 others were injured because of an airstrike on the Tajoura Detention Center, just outside of Libya's capital.

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(Photo by Emma McIntyre/BAFTA LA/Getty Images for BAFTA LA)

Daniel Kaluuya Is Producing a Live-Action 'Barney' Movie with Mattel

Yes, you read that correctly.

In a move that absolutely no one saw coming, Oscar-nominated actor Daniel Kaluuya is set to produce a live-action Barney movie in conjunction with Mattel Films. The Hollywood Reporter first broke the story.

Kaluuya will co-produce the film as part of his 59% production banner, which signed a first-look deal with Paramount back in May. Speaking on his involvement with the project and the impact of Barney & Friends, Kaluuya had this to say: "Barney was a ubiquitous figure in many of our childhoods, then he disappeared into the shadows, left misunderstood. We're excited to explore this compelling modern-day hero and see if his message of 'I love you, you love me' can stand the test of time."

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(Photo Courtesy of the Artist)

Busy Signal Drops New Video for '100%' Featuring Afro B

Premiere: The Jamaican dancehall star and afrowave artist partner up for a comical new song and video.

Busy Signal has teamed up with Afro B for a fiery song and hilarious video for their new track, "100%".

Born and bred in Jamaica, Busy Signal's signature dancehall-reggae sound with an electronic lean is always a refreshing twist. His sound mixed with "Drogba (Joanna)" star Afro B's smooth afrowave style makes this new track, well, 100% dope.

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