The country’s only manufacturer of mobile devices has praised the South African government’s massive vote of confidence in its decision to recognise Mara Phones as its preferred device brand in all procurements for the next five years.

In an official statement, the company says that in the recently awarded RT15-2021 contract for “the supply and delivery of mobile communication services to the state for the period 01 April 2021 to 31 March 2026”, National Treasury requires preference to be given to local mobile device manufacturers – and as the only one of its kind in the country and on the continent, Mara Phones has accordingly been given first preference in the published list of nominated OEMs.

“All other device brands supplied by Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and Telkom in terms of the recently-announced five-year transversal contract are now considered secondary to Mara Phones,” says Sylvester Taku, MD of Mara Phones SA, quoting the awarded contract.

“This is the result of years of hard work and tireless dedication from my exceptional team. It is a huge boost to South Africa’s local economy and employment, and it demonstrates the government’s and the network operators’ absolute faith in us as South Africa’s flagship smartphone brand. Every South African can be proud that world-class smartphones roll out of our KwaZulu-Natal high-tech electronics manufacturing plant – not simple assembly plant – and we cannot wait to get our devices into the hands of more South Africans. We are thrilled that our decision to manufacture locally will soon enable Mara Phones to invest even more in growing this local brand and to positively contribute to the unemployment challenge in South Africa,” Taku says.

There are three main categories of the Government’s transversal contract, and in the mobile devices category Mara Phones is listed across the four networks as the first preferred brand with all other brands being secondary.

On the reasoning behind this, the circular states: “National Treasury together with the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition supports the Proudly South African campaign and the objectives of the Industrial Policy Action Plan, especially those aimed at promoting the procurement of domestically produced goods and services.”

It continues, “As part of continuation of advancing some of the key socio-economic challenges such as job creation the procurement of local manufactured devices is a first preference on this transversal contract by all organs of state.”

The transversal contract has been awarded to multiple service providers (Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and Telkom) and, according to the circular: “The mobile communications services can be procured at any time within the 60 months transversal contract period.”

“This is outstanding news, and it comes on the back of the heightened importance of countries investing in their own capacity when it comes to critical goods and services. Covid-19 and the Suez Canal blockage have perfectly demonstrated the fragility of international trade,” says Mara Phones group CEO, Ashish J. Thakkar.

“We are looking forward to working with the big four telecoms firms to supply the world’s best, South African-made smart devices to all government departments, agencies and institutions. In particular, we are looking forward to exceeding the expectations of the users themselves. We are thankful to the Government of South Africa, the Department of National Treasury and the Department for Trade & Industry for the opportunity and the justified belief bestowed on our locally manufactured products,” Thakkar adds.