Africa’s smartphone market makes gains

Smartphone market

U.S.–China tensions accompanied by market saturation are placing the global smartphone market under immense stress. The latest research from International Data Corporations has shown that the African smartphone market saw shipments increase 4.0% quarter upon quarter in Q3 last year to total 22.6 million units. The firm’s latest research indicates Africa’s complete mobile phone sales reached 55.8 million units in Q3 2019, with feature phones making up for 59.4% of this total, in comparison to smartphones at 40.6%.

This growth, was prompted by the strong performance of the three most sizeable markets on the continent: Nigeria, South Africa, and Egypt. This was mostly driven by the massive influx of affordable models that have recently been launched in these markets. The stability of the Nigerian naira (NGN) and appreciation of the Egyptian Pound (EGP) has also helped create an increase in demand.

Transsion brands (Tecno, Infinix, and Itel) continued to lead the feature phone space in Q3 2019, with a combined unit share of 64.0%. Nokia was next with a 1.0% share.

In the smartphone space, Transsion (36.2%), Samsung (23.9%), and Huawei (11.4%) led the way in unit terms; however, in terms of value, Samsung led the way with a 33.2% share, followed by Transsion (22.4%) and Huawei (15.6%).

Samsung shook the market up this year with the launch of its new A series of devices, which combine excellent value for money with Samsung’s well-established brand equity,” says Taher Abdel-Hameed, a senior research analyst at IDC. “This move spurred a significant increase in Samsung’s shipments across most African countries.

Samsung recorded remarkable year-on-year growth of 61.4% in the low-end price band ($100-$200) in Q3 2019, and its move into this space has pushed Chinese brands to offer more affordable devices. Local African brands have traditionally focused on filling in for the absence of global brands in the entry-level smartphone segment, so these latest developments have put them in a difficult situation, causing their volumes to decline 33.6% year on year in Q3 2019.”

The smartphone market in Africa is changing from a price perspective too, with models costing between $100-200 seeing an increase in demand in the last year. Such an increase was mainly driven by the launch of new Samsung and Transsion models. The models below $100 had been on the decline in recent quarters and had lost share to low-end price band as device portfolios move towards bigger screen sizes and 4G capabilities.

2019 will prove to have been a pivotal year for the African smartphone market,” says Ramazan Yavuz, a research manager at IDC. “4G devices are now dominating the market like never before, accounting for 73.0% of shipments. Screen sizes are also getting larger, with devices equipped with 6-inch screens and above now accounting for 41.7% of shipments, up from just 9.0% a year ago.”

IDC predicts that Africa’s total mobile phone market to reach around 218.2 million units for 2019 and Q1 of 2020 as a whole. Smartphone shipments will equal 91.0 million units for the year, up 3.2% on 2018, and the introduction of more affordable devices will motivate progress in this space over the coming years.