Africa’s mobile phone market shrinks

Africa’s smartphone market declined by 3.4 percent quarter on quarter (QoQ) in the first quarter of 2023 to 17 million units, the lowest level since 2020, amid rising inflation in regional countries, according to a new report released on Friday.

   The report by the International Data Corporation (IDC), a global technology research and consulting services firm, said China’s Transsion brands — Tecno, Itel and Infinix — accounted for the largest share of smartphone shipments across Africa despite experiencing a decline in units.

   Samsung placed second, while Xiaomi came in third, said the report which was released in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.

   The IDC said rising inflation and local currency depreciations against the U.S. dollar have negatively impacted demand for smartphones across the continent.

   George Mbuthia, a senior research analyst at the IDC, said Africa’s smartphones declined throughout 2022 amid weak consumer demand, and this has been exacerbated by rising inflation and higher device prices.

   “The average selling price (ASP) for smartphones grew QoQ due to high import costs and the fact that many vendors’ flagship devices are now equipped with 5G and have therefore moved up in price to the premium segment,” Mbuthia said.

   According to the IDC, shipments of feature phones across Africa also declined during the period, although not to the same extent as smartphones.

   The report shows that feature phones remain relatively affordable and are still the preferred secondary device option for many consumers.

   Ramazan Yavuz, a senior research manager at the IDC, said a slight recovery in demand is expected starting from the second half of 2023, with uncertainty over a global recession lessening.

   “Greater currency stability against the dollar will promote more stable pricing, and this is also expected to ease import costs and thus lower ASPs in the market, helping to spur slight growth throughout the remainder of the year,” Yavuz said.

   The IDC said Africa’s top three smartphone markets — South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt — recorded a mixed performance with shipments in both South Africa and Nigeria declining while the Egyptian market registered growth.

   The report said South Africa was impacted by seasonality issues and weak demand, meaning vendors were unable to bring in new units while they continued to clear the channel.

   The IDC said Egypt remains below its potential, but local assembly is picking up in the country, and the government has dropped its “letters of credit” requirement for vendors, both of which have helped the market to recover from its low base

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