President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday 17 October 2019 launched Africa's second smartphone manufacturing plant in Durban's Dube TradePort Special Economic Zone by Mara Group. The venture will generate hundreds of high-skilled direct jobs and thousands of indirect jobs. It will contribute to the transfer of technology and high-tech knowledge in South Africa. More than 60% of the staff at the plant are women while 90% of the workforce will be youth. The Dubai-based Mara Group said they would be producing 1.2 million smartphone handsets annually. The production is expected to serve the domestic market as well as the regional market, especially the SADC region, contributing to strategies that position South Africa as the gateway to Africa.
Mara Group pledged to invest 100 million U.S. dollars in South Africa in last year's investment conference in the country. President Ramaphosa said the company delivered on their promise by opening the cell phone manufacturing plant and increased the country's capability.
"This will instill confidence in other manufacturers that South Africa is indeed a place where they should all come to invest. The company's efforts represent strengthening of our advances in technology and electronically manufacturing sector," said President Ramaphosa.
The phones are expected to be listed on commerce sites such as Jumia, Konga, and Amazon. The company also plans to sell the phones via retail partnerships with telecom operators Vodafone, MTN and Airtel.
Mara Phone Plant is part of the recently launched District-Based Development Model. Announcing the project during the State of the Nation Address in June, President Ramaphosa said the approach would focus on the 44 districts and eight metros to speed up service delivery, ensuring that municipalities are properly supported and adequately resourced.
According to the Presidency, a pattern of operating in silos was a challenge identified by government that led to lack of coherence in planning and implementation and made monitoring and oversight of government’s programme difficult.
The District Development Model has been approved by government structures, including Cabinet. The model will be piloted in two districts and a metro that have elements of rural, mining and urban – the OR Tambo; Waterberg and eThekwini metros.