Upsurge in African Smartphone markets as overall Mobile phone sales drops to 1.9% since 2015; IDC


International Data Corporation (IDC) has revealed that there has been a sharp year-on-year increase in African Smartphone shipments in 2018 for the first time since 2015, despite last year being a tough one worldwide.

African Smartphone market grew 2.3% in 2018 to total 82.2 million units, supported by the 3 biggest markets Nigeria, South African and Egypt, according to IDC’s Quarterly Phone Tracker. Overall Mobile Phone shipments were down 1.9% year on year in 2018 to 215.3% million units, with feature phone accounting for 59.0 percent versus 41.1 percent for Smartphones. 


2018, according to IDC was the first year that Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt have simultaneously experienced mobile shipments growth since 2015. The Nigerian and Egyptian markets recovered from declines in 2017 due to the relative decline of exchange rates, the introduction of new, affordable smartphones and the stronger presence of feature phones.

On the other hand, African brands such as Mobicel and Stylo pushing feature phones and ultra-low end smartphones pushed for growth in South Africa.

Transition brands such as Tecno, infinix and itel, led Africa’s feature phone sector in 2018, with a combined unit share of 58.7 percent and Nokia was next in line with 9.6 percent share, according to the IDC report.

The smartphone space was dominated by Transsion, Samsung and Huawei, with respective unit shares 34.3 percent, 22.6 percent and 9.9 percent. Samsung however led the smartphone sector with 36.9 percent, followed by Transsion (20.2%) and Huawei (12.4) in value terms.

Moreover, brands of local and regional origins accounted for a combined 14.3 percent share of Africa’s mobile phone market in 2018, which is broadly equal to the share of all Chinese products in the market excerpt for Transsion whose primary focus is on serving African and accounted for a significant 48.7 percent share of the market’s volume in 2018.

Africa’s overall Mobile phone market, according to the IDC report, is expected to fall year on year 0.8 percent in 2019 to 213.6 units. Moreover, smartphone shipments are forecast to grow 5.4 percent over this period, spurred by affordable devices in the African market.

Furthermore, as the shift to smartphones gathers momentum, feature phone shipments are expected to decline 5.1 percent.

Regarding 5G deployments, which has had several experiments undertaken in the region, IDC expects that their commercialization will start in most countries by the year 2020. 5G and other new devices like foldable devices are not expected to quickly flock in and gather momentum in the region due to the high costs associated with such technological devices, hence their delay in fully establishing themselves in the region over the period, according to the IDC report. 


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