It has been tough going when it comes to smartphone makers hailing from Africa. With the likes of AG Mobile falling to the wayside, is there still a market for a brand born and bred on the continent? Vodacom certainly thinks there is, with the local carrier confirming that it will now stock Mara smartphones.

The brand, which currently has two devices in its ranks both running a pure version of Android, will be stocked by Vodacom and its affiliated outlets the carrier explained in a press statement sent to Hypertext.

“Vodacom is proud to offer the ‘Made in Africa’ Mara smartphones to our customers, not only because it provides South Africans with the opportunity to connect to the things that matter most to them, but also because this supports our commitment to African innovation,” says Davide Tacchino, terminals managing executive at Vodacom.

“Vodacom believes that the journey into the Fourth Industrial Revolution begins with investment that leads to growth. Our end-goal is to connect all South Africans to a better future. Being able to do so with devices made right here in our country, while simultaneously contributing to skills and job growth, is very exciting,” he adds. 

As for the aforementioned devices, Mara smartphones has the Mara X and Mara Z being made available in South Africa. A look at the website for Mara shows both devices listed at R2 999 and R3 999 respectively, placing them in the lower end of the mid-range space.

The Mara Z is the better specced of the two, hence the larger price tag, and sports a 5.7″ LCD display, 13MP cameras on the front and rear, 3GB RAM and 32GB storage, as well as Android One as the operating system onboard. The Less expensive Mara X is designed to cater to lighter, less data-intensive applications, according to its designers. The other key feature of its design is a 3 500mAh battery.

Along with the budget-friendly billing, and made in Africa status of both devices, the Mara brand has a presence in South Africa, with a factory located in the country.

“The Mara Phones factory in South Africa employs over 200 people, 90% of which are previously skilled, unemployed youth and 60% of these employees are women,” notes Ashish J. Thakkar, CEO of Mara Phones.

“Mara phones offer an opportunity to create a strong mobile device sector in the country which would lead to economic growth and job creation. We are appreciative to Vodacom for their commitment and support to Mara Phones and look forward to building on this solid partnership from strength to strength,” he concludes.