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Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt Smartphone markets lift Africa’s growth

By Adeyemi Adepetun
12 December 2019   |   3:38 am
While market saturation and U.S.–China tensions are placing the global Smartphone market under intense pressure, new research from International Data Corporations shows that the African Smartphone....

While market saturation and U.S.–China tensions are placing the global Smartphone market under intense pressure, new research from International Data Corporations shows that the African Smartphone market saw shipments increase 4.0 percent quarter on quarter in Q3 2019 to total 22.6 million units.
The growth in the Smartphone space was spurred by the strong performance of the three biggest markets in Africa – Nigeria, South Africa, and Egypt. This was largely driven by the huge influx of affordable models that have recently been launched in these markets, while the relative stability of the Nigerian naira and appreciation of the Egyptian Pound (EGP) also helped stir an increase in consumer demand.
According to IDC’s latest quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, Africa’s overall mobile phone market reached 55.8 million units in Q3 2019, with feature phones accounting for 59.4 percent of this total versus smartphones at 40.6 percent.

Statistics from IDC further showed that Transsion brands (Tecno, Infinix, and Itel) continued to lead the feature phone space in Q3 2019, with a combined unit share of 64.0 percent. Nokia was next in line with 10.0 percent share. In the smartphone space, Transsion (36.2 percent), Samsung (23.9 percent), and Huawei (11.4 percent) led the way in unit terms; however, in value terms, Samsung was the clear leader with 33.2 percent share, followed by Transsion (22.4 percent) and Huawei (15.6 percent).
Senior Research Analyst at IDC, Taher Abdel-Hameed, said 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. He said this move spurred a significant increase in Samsung’s shipments across most African countries.
“Samsung recorded remarkable year-on-year growth of 61.4 per cent 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 percent year on year in Q3 2019,” he stated.
The report noted that Africa’s smartphone market is also changing from a price band perspective, with the $100-$200 category seeing its share of shipments increase from 31.4 percent in Q3 2018 to 39.8 per cent in Q3 2019.

This growth, according to IDC was largely driven by the launch of new Samsung and Transsion models. It noted that the ultra-low-end band (below $100) has been declining in recent quarters and losing share to the low-end price band as brands move their device portfolios towards larger screen sizes and 4G capabilities.
According to another Research Manager at IDC, Ramazan Yavuz, “2019 will prove to have been a pivotal year for the African smartphone market. 4G devices are now dominating the market like never before, accounting for 73.0 percent of shipments. Screen sizes are also getting larger, with devices equipped with 6-inch screens and above now accounting for 41.7 percent of shipments, up from just 9.0 percent a year ago.”
IDC expects Africa’s overall mobile phone market to total 218.2 million units for 2019 as a whole. Smartphone shipments will total 91.0 million units for the year, up 3.2 percent on 2018, and the introduction of more affordable devices will help drive progress in this space over the coming years. Feature phone shipments are expected to remain flat at 127.2 million units for 2019, up just 0.1 percent year on year, as the transition to smartphone gathers momentum.