Africa’s smartphone revolution is slowing down according to the latest figures compiled by International Data Corporation (IDC). The global technology research and consulting services firm says the continent’s smartphone market totaled to 95.37 million units in 2016. Despite there being a growth from last year by 3.4 percent, the slow down is significant from the double-digit growth rates seen in the previous two years, with IDC saying that the demand is being hampered by the currency fluctuations that are affecting the continent.
Overall, 215.33 million mobile handsets were shipped in Africa in 2016, which is a growth of 10.1% from the previous year. However, it was feature phones that were largely responsible for this growth, with shipments increasing by 16.1% in 2016 to total to 119.97 million units.
This growth saw feature phones increase their unit share of Africa’s overall handset market from 53% in 2015 to 56% in 2016. With Transsion brands (Tecno, Itel and Infinix) comfortably outperforming the competition in 2016.
Samsung continued to lead the African smartphone market in 2016 with 27% market share. However, at 26 million units, Samsung’s smartphone market share dropped by about 2.5%. The second-placed smartphone brand was Transsion-owned Tecno with a market share of 12% (11.5 million units), followed by Huawei at 8% market share (7.7 million units).
Itel comes in third at 6% market share (5.7 million units) and Infinix follows at 3% market share (2.8 million units). Lenovo saw flat growth while ZTE and Alcatel both suffered slight declines. The Transsion domination at the top of the list is clear, with the company taking up 21% of the African smartphone market, falling slightly behind Samsung and miles away from Huawei.
“Price competitiveness has become a key issue in many African markets,” says Ramazan Yavuz, research manager for mobile devices in Africa at IDC CEMA. “To grow significantly in these markets, vendors have to be able to address the continent’s large low-income population by providing phones that are priced very competitively. As such, global vendors are cautious of the lower-priced Chinese brands now entering the market and are keeping a close eye on them.”
3G handsets continue to account for more than half of all new smartphone shipments in Africa, although 4G devices saw year-on-year growth of more than 50% in 2016. IDC is predicting that by 2018, 4G handsets will account for more than half of new smartphone shipments in Africa, as prices for entry-level 4G phones drop and the number of 4G networks across the continent grows.