Africa smartphone market grows marginally despite 4G investment

The Africa mobile phone market fell 1.8 percent quarter-on-quarter to 52.2 million units in Q2 2019 from 53.1 million units in Q1 2019, according to IDC report.
Smartphone user in AfricaFeature phones, which accounted for 58.3 percent of the market, declined 3.7 percent q-o-q. Smartphone shipments in Africa increased 1 percent q-o-q, accounting for 41.7 percent share.

George Mbuthia, research analyst at IDC, said: “The transition to smartphones is continuing, albeit slowly, and the affordability of feature phones was not enough to stop this segment of the market declining in Q2 2019.”

Nigeria remained Africa’s largest smartphone market in Q2 2019, followed by South Africa and Egypt. Smartphone shipments increased in Nigeria and South Africa at 3.6 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively. Smartphone shipments in Egypt rose 18 percent q-o-q after the market shrunk considerably in Q1 2019 due to the introduction of import registration and other import regulations.

Transsion (Tecno, Infinix, and Itel brands) with 37.4 percent share, Samsung with 27.4 percent, and Huawei with 8.7 percent share are the smartphone leaders in Africa during the second quarter of 2019.

Samsung had the highest share by dollar value at 40.3 percent, followed Transsion with 21.9 percent and Huawei with 12.2 percent.

Samsung’s dominant revenue position in the market is sustained through timely product launches across all African markets, particularly in relation to its A-Series devices, which are shipped in large volumes, IDC said.

Shipments of 4G-enabled smartphones increased 6.6 percent q-o-q in Q2 2019 to account for 70.8 percent of the total smartphone market.

IDC forecasts that 4G-enabled smartphones will constitute 74.4 percent of the African smartphone market by the end of 2020.

5G smartphones will garner 0.4 percent share in 2020.

5G-enabled smartphones are expected to be introduced to the African market by end of Q3 2019, says Ramazan Yavuz, a research manager at IDC.

South Africa will be the first African country to see the launch of 5G smartphones. South Africa’s leading telecom operator MTN will launch 5G services in association with Ericsson in South Africa.

IDC expects Africa’s smartphone market to grow 4.7 percent q-o-q in Q3 2019 to total 22.8 million units. The feature phone market in Africa will grow 0.1 percent to 30.5 million units in Q3 2019.

GSMA, the global telecom industry association, says the infrastructure deployment in Sub-Saharan Africa increased 3G coverage from 63 percent in 2017 to 70 percent in 2018, extending access to more than 80 million people.

Between 2014 and 2018, the penetration of smartphone connections in Sub-Saharan Africa increased from 10 percent to 30 percent.

Affordability of data is lowest in South Asia at 1.2 percent of monthly income and highest in SubSaharan Africa at 6.8 percent.

There have been increases in the infrastructure enabler, driven by growth in 4G coverage and the expansion of mobile broadband coverage in Sub-Saharan Africa. Network quality has also improved significantly and the vast majority of countries now have average broadband speeds — greater than 2 Mbps.