I am pleased to join you here today to launch the Mara Phones factory, which is the first of its kind in our continent.

The first smartphones ever to be made in Rwanda, as Ashish said, have already rolled off the assembly line. The Mara Phone joins a growing list of high-quality products that are made in our country.

Producing smartphones is not a simple matter. Around one thousand individual components are involved. The Mara Phones plant is therefore a complex manufacturing operation, requiring significant technical skills and expertise. It is another milestone on our journey to high-tech, “made-in-Rwanda” industry.

I want to congratulate everyone involved in this pioneering project. In particular, I thank Mara Chairman Jagdish and CEO Ashish for choosing to establish this plant in Rwanda, our country and their country.

This factory is the latest addition to our ongoing partnership with Mara Group and shows this company’s confidence in the business prospects of our country and the wider region.

The smartphone is no longer a luxury item. It is rapidly becoming a requirement of everyday life. That trend is bound to increase in the years to come, as more and more services migrate to digital platforms.

In Rwanda we have Irembo, which is already the citizen’s primary gateway for many public services, and integration of Irembo into Mara Phones is an innovative feature.

The percentage is still really low of Rwandans who are already using smartphones, but we want to enable many more who would like to, and this is why dealing with cost and quality is very important. So we are gradually dealing with those obstacles through what Mara Group has established here in Rwanda.

The introduction of Mara Phones will put smartphone ownership within reach of more Rwandans. The product is backed by a warranty, and the price can be paid in instalments over two years. I think they have tried to make it as simple and possible for Rwandans as they could.

Our world is changing fast. Keeping pace requires constant innovation. This is the path Rwanda has chosen for our development. The investment by Mara Phones Group is therefore in perfect harmony with our focus on science and technology as the key drivers of our economic transformation.

I am pleased that Mara is committed to partnering with Rwanda’s educational and training institutions to ensure that workers acquire the necessary skills to succeed. Indeed, this should be the model for collaboration between industry and the education sector in our country.

Mara aims to export phones within our region as well, and this is very important. As such, this partnership has a significance that goes beyond the particular facility we are launching today, or the phone that it produces.

After all, the private sector is the engine of the progress we desire for our continent. We must aim to compete regionally and globally at the high-end of the technology spectrum.

The Mara Group has shown that it shares our vision for Rwanda’s development and is prepared to play a part in it — a significant part for that matter. We value that readiness and will work to ensure that Mara Group’s investment is commercially successful, which is also to our benefit.

Once again, let me thank you for your commitment and wish you every success in these important endeavours. I am sure Rwandans have been listening to you, to all of us, and we take advantage of this opportunity so that we take ourselves to a much higher level of transformation we are seeking to have.

Have a good day and thank you for your kind attention.