R1,5 Billion, Mara Smart Phone Manufacturing At Dube TradePort Special Zone,

17 October 2019

In a high-profile event involving South African President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, the Mara Group - a renowned Pan-African conglomerate - today (Thursday 17 October) made good on an earlier investment pledge, by officially launching a high-tech smart phone manufacturing plant at Dube TradePort Special Economic Zone (SEZ), the first of its kind in Africa.

The launch event was attended by a range of dignitaries, including Mr Ramaphosa, the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Mr Sihle Zikalala, the Provincial MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Ms Nomusa Dube-Ncube, Dube TradePort Corporation's Chairperson, Dr Bridgette Gasa, the organisation's CEO, Mr Hamish Erskine, and a number of business leaders. It marked the Group's follow-through on an investment undertaking made during the South Africa Investment Conference held in October 2018 and led by Mr Ramaphosa. The conference, which formed part of a five-year investment drive to raise US$100 billion, showcased the country's compelling investment opportunities.

Dube TradePort Special Economic Zone is considered to be one of South Africa's top 10 investment opportunities.

The Mara Phone investment is valued at R1,5 billion and brings on-stream South Africa's first fully-fledged smart phone manufacturing factory, located in Dube TradePort Special Economic Zone as part of the growing electronics cluster. 

Mara was established in 1996 - active in the manufacturing, financial, agricultural, real estate and technology sectors – Mara has a presence in 26 African countries, employing some 14 000 people. Mara Phones South Africa (Pty) Ltd, within Dube TradePort Special Economic Zone will is set to employ almost 1 500 people upon expansion (currently employs 200 people, 90% of whom were unemployed graduates, and 60% of those are women), and has the manufacturing capacity to produce 1,2 million units annually.

Dube TradePort Special Economic Zone is making history, hosting the first high-tech smart phone manufacturing facility in the country. This operation brings on-stream two new high-tech devices, which will be made available through a number of distribution channels for, especially, first-time African smart phone users. Mara Phones South Africa plans to export its devices to Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland and Zambia.

Dube TradePort Special Economic Zone had already attracted R3,2 billion in private sector investment, the majority of which was dedicated to the manufacturing-focused Dube TradeZone 1. Other major investors include South Korea's Samsung, Chinese fibre-optic cable manufacturer, yangtze Optics Africa Cables, the Indian-owned Mahindra semi-knockdown assembly plant, HBM-SA Health, gearbox manufacturer, Rossi SA, bearing manufacturer, Amsted Reelin, polypropylene bag manufacturer, Tufbag SA and laundry products manufacturer, Retractaline.

According to GFK Consulting, Ovum, GSMA and other sources, South Africa imported 4 million smart phones, collectively valued at R9,2 billion, in 2017. Some 3,4 million smart phones were shipped to the country in the second quarter of last year alone, up 17,4% year-on-year. In addition, 100 million mobile phone connections were made here during 2018, 85% of which were pre-paid, and it was forecast that the total number of handset sales in South Africa would top 29 million last years, with 50 million smart phones in use. Accordingly, the manufacture of smart phones within the country is likely to make a sizeable contribution towards ongoing import substitution efforts. 

Work on Dube TradePort Special Economic Zone phase 2 is well underway, with 45 hectares now open for applications from investors. The second phase of the Dube TradeZone development is targeting R18 billion, of investment over the next five years.