Transsion Dominates Smartphone Market in Africa in 2023: IDC

According to a recent report by IDC, the smartphone market in Africa experienced significant growth, expanding by 12.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2023 to reach 19.8 million units.

5G South Africa

The surge in sales in the smartphone market in Africa was attributed to the concerted efforts of Chinese brands, who focused on the region despite prevailing economic challenges such as high inflation, local currency devaluations, and forex shortages.

The IDC’s Mobile Phone Tracker revealed that while the smartphone market flourished, the feature phone market witnessed a decline of 7.8 percent during the same period, totaling 20.9 million units.

Kenya emerged as a standout performer in the region, boasting the highest year-over-year growth rate in smartphone shipments for Q4 2023. This growth was particularly notable considering the strategic reduction in shipments by dominant brands during the same period in 2022 to manage high inventory levels. Kenya’s success was fueled by local assembly initiatives for low-end smartphones priced below $200, coupled with mobile phone financing schemes that facilitated installment payments over extended periods.

Despite market volatility and significant currency devaluation, Nigeria secured Africa’s second-highest growth rate in smartphone shipments, largely driven by the aggressive marketing efforts of Chinese brands. However, South Africa experienced a decline in smartphone sales due to a challenging economic environment and delays in shipments at the country’s ports.

Transsion brands, including Tecno, Itel, and Infinix, maintained dominance in Africa’s smartphone market with their ultra-low-end devices priced below $100. These devices catered to consumers with limited purchasing power, attributed to reduced income and fluctuating exchange rates. Samsung and Xiaomi followed closely behind Transsion brands, occupying second and third place, respectively.

The report also highlighted a notable increase in shipments of ultra-low-end smartphones (below $100) by 5.2 percent year-over-year in Q4 2023, with shipments of low-end ($100<$200) and midrange ($200<$400) devices rising by 18.9 percent and 16.6 percent, respectively. This trend underscored the strong demand for budget-friendly smartphones across the continent.

Looking ahead, IDC forecasts a modest 2.8 percent growth in smartphone shipments for Africa in 2024. The slowdown in handset renewal cycles, attributed to the durability and enhanced features of smartphones, is expected to support continued growth in the short to medium term.

Additionally, the transition from feature phones to smartphones, along with anticipated advancements in AI technology and 5G adoption, is poised to further fuel Africa’s smartphone market growth in the long term.