Smartphone sales surpass feature phones in Africa

Smartphone sales surpass feature phones in Africa

Smartphone shipments have for the first time surpassed feature phone stock in Africa,  showcasing the rise in adoption of more advanced handsets across the region.

Analyst house IDC detailed in its report smartphone units grew 17.9% year-on-year reaching 20.2 million units in the first quarter of this year, as feature phones declined 15.9% to 18.8 million units.

IDC senior research analyst Arnold Ponela noted South Africa and Nigeria, the largest smartphone markets in Africa, drove growth due to popularity of Chinese brands. Kenya was the third-largest smartphone market in Africa by driving sales growth with financing schemes.

Transsion, which houses the Tecno, Itel and Infinix smartphone brands was the leading smartphone vendor in Africa due to its “compelling entry-level portfolio” that are “tailored” to the African market. However, Samsung and Xiaomi gained market share on the previous quarter, driven by mid-range ($200 to $400) models. Market share numbers were not broken down by IDC.

Shipments of mid-range smartphones increased in Q1 while sub-$100 devices declined, “indicating a growing consumer preference for feature-rich models”.

Looking ahead for this year, IDC predicted the smartphone market in Africa will see 5.7% YoY growth in 2024. Growth is expected to sustain over the next five years.

"Africa remains a market with a high share of feature phones, although they are expected to gradually decline as the transition to smartphones gains momentum," said IDC Research Manager, Akash Balachandran.

“This shift, coupled with rising demand, will be the key driver of overall growth in the smartphone market. Persistent inflationary pressures and escalating macroeconomic uncertainties may cause short-term fluctuations but will not impede the long-term transition."


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