More Africa NewsSouth Africa’s first smartphone factory gets a fresh start

July 11, 2022by myles0

Mara Phones South Africa is getting a new lease on life with the Lebashe Investment Group, Mabuti Radebe, and Sylvester Taku’s MPSA Projects teaming up to buy the company.

The Sunday Times reported that the company’s new owners are currently in talks to distribute rebranded Mara smartphones to five African counties in an attempt to bring the business back to life.

Radebe said they were close to signing export deals with telecom operators and independent retailers in two Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries and one nation in northeast Africa.

The company said it had already signed contracts with relevant parties in two countries in northwest Africa.

Mara’s Durban factory launched to much fanfare in October 2019, with President Cyril Ramaphosa and several government officials attending the facility’s grand opening.

The company said its operations would create around 1,500 direct and thousands of indirect jobs within six years.

It aimed to assemble high-quality smartphones at affordable prices for South African consumers, and its Mara X and Z smartphones sold for R3,000 and R4,000, respectively.

Following the shutdown and buyout, Mara South Africa plans to rebrand to shake off any negative impressions of it.

Its first new batch of smartphones is likely to be ready by September 2022.

“The current brand went through a lot of damage, and a negative narrative was attached to it,” Sunday Times quoted Radebe as saying.

“The staff have been unemployed, and we want to put all of this behind us for a fresh start.”

Taku that the company would be able to fulfil its promise to do everything it can to save jobs, retain essential skills, and keep its manufacturing facility in KwaZulu-Natal through its partnership with the Lebashe Investment Group.

Taku initially revealed his plans to rescue the failed smartphone manufacturer in March 2022, explaining that he headed a managing team buyout group that had secured an investor promising to capitalise the business adequately.

“The fact that we have secured the partnership of a tier-one raw material supplier will significantly improve margins and provide us with the capability of always having a broad range of devices with the latest specifications,” he said.

Mara’s South African manufacturing facility was shut down a year ago, resulting in the loss of around 200 jobs.

It said it had failed due to a lack of uptake in its products, fewer government tenders for its devices than expected, and the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns.

Four months after the facility opened, the Covid-19 pandemic hit and South Africa implemented a protracted national lockdown.

“Unfortunately, the lack of uptake in the South African domestic market coupled with a shortfall in tender materialisation and lockdowns has prompted this course of action,” Mara’s executives said.

“As in other countries, the pandemic really affected South Africa and our business as a result too.”

MyBroadband spoke to a former Mara Phones factory worker regarding working conditions at the plant.

The employee alleged that Mara Phones underpaid its staff, mistreated female workers, and denied the provision of retrenchment letters meaning that employees could not get any form of government support.

The factory, including its manufacturing and testing equipment, smartphone components, and the completed phones kept in its storage facilities, was put to auction in February 2022.

Park Village Auctions had said local and international buyers, including one from India, had expressed interest in buying the plant.

Source: My Broadband

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© Copyright Extensia Ltd