ASHISH THAKKAR: le premier homme à installer une usine de fabrication des smartphones en Afrique (au Rwanda).

ASHISH THAKKAR

L’histoire d’Ashish Thakkar commence en 1981 (il a 38 ans aujourd’hui), lorsqu’il voit le jour à Leicester (en Angleterre). C’est là que ses parents, issus de la quatrième génération d’Indiens installés en Afrique, avaient trouvé refuge une fois que le dictateur ougandais, Idi Amin Dada, eut décidé, en 1972, d’expulser du pays les 50.000 commerçants indo-pakistanais qui en constituaient le poumon économique.

En 1993, la famille d’Ashish décide de revenir sur le continent africain, cette fois au Rwanda. Las, un an plus tard, la situation du pays vire au drame avec le génocide des Tutsis. Le jeune garçon, alors âgé de 12 ans, et sa famille quittent le Rwanda pour quelques mois au Burundi, avant de se réinstaller plus tard en Ouganda.

En Ouganda, Ashish Thakkar retourne à l’école, mais plus pour très longtemps : entre-temps, grâce à un ordinateur que ses parents lui avaient offert, le jeune garçon s’est découvert une passion pour le commerce. Il le revend avec une plus-value de 100 dollars, en rachète un nouveau, réitère l’opération, demande à ses parents un prêt de 5.000 dollars, les supplie de le laisser quitter l’école à 15 ans, et se lance à plein-temps dans l’achat et la revente de biens informatiques : disquettes, moniteurs, pièces détachées. Toutes les semaines, le jeune garçon part s’approvisionner à Dubaï en matériel. C’est le début, en 1996, de ce qui deviendra plus tard le Groupe Mara et qui fera de lui l’un des plus jeune milliardaires d’Afrique.

Aujourd’hui, 23 ans après, sa petite entreprise a grandi. Basée à Dubaï, elle est aujourd’hui présente dans 27 pays (dont 25 sur le continent africain). Basé à Dubai, son groupe (« Groupe Mara ») est désormais actif dans les technologies télécoms, les services financiers, l’immobilier, le BTP, l’industrie et l’agriculture. Selon diverses estimations, dont celles du magazine Forbes, le Groupe Mara générerait 11.000 emplois pour un milliard de dollars de chiffre d’affaires. Avec la fabrication des premiers smartphones en Afrique (à Kigali), Ashish Thakkar a franchi un pas supplémentaire dans son expansion. Un deuxième site est annoncé à Durban (en Afrique du Sud) à la fin de ce mois. Et au-delà du continent africain, Ashish Thakkar compte bien exporter ses produits « made in Africa » dans le monde entier.

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