Skip to content

A Promising Venture for a ‘Made in South Africa’ Smartphone Dashed

The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), which heavily funded South Africa’s first smartphone factory, said it decided to pull the plug on Mara Phones because it did not meet production targets after the Covid-19 pandemic affected the business. The smartphone manufacturing facility was launched in 2019 at the Dube Trade Port in Durban, with much fanfare. It was lauded for putting South Africa on the map to be a tech industry leader. But, just two years after the launch, the facility has shut down and will be sold to the highest bidder through a sale mandated by the IDC and Standard Bank, which also contributed to funding the venture. Total funding for the project, which amounted to R429 million, was intended to create 450 jobs over a period five years stood, the IDC said. The IDC acted as the senior lender in the venture and approved total facilities worth R238 million, it said. Despite Mara Phones’ CEO pledging to inject R1.5 billion into the project, its shareholders could not raise their full contribution, the IDC said in the statement.