Africa’s smartphone market stays strong against adversity

Africa’s smartphone market stays strong amidst a difficult environment

Africa’s smartphone market has shown resilience with a second consecutive quarter of strong recovery in Q3 2023, according to analysis from Canalys.

Shipments hit 17.9 million units, growing 12% year-on-year despite numerous macroeconomic issues, restrictions on imports, and fluctuations in currency value across several major markets.

Tecno Mobile’s parent firm Transsion held onto the top spot with a 48% share of the market, achieving 9% growth. Canalys noted that the firm is expanding its footprint strategically in emerging markets, aiming for the sub-US$100 price bracket.

Samsung saw a year-on-year decline of 13% but held on to second place with a market share of 26%, with mid and high end devices taking a hit while its A-series performed well. Chinese manufacturers Xiaomi and Oppo invested heavily in several markets and were repaid with respective growth rates of 100% and 259%, while realme clocked growth of 11%.

Canalys Senior Consultant, Manish Pravinkumar, said: “Despite rapid currency devaluation, South Africa's smartphone market exhibited a remarkable growth of 20%. This surge was fuelled by the demand for entry-level devices, particularly catering to the extensive pre-paid segment. Additionally, mid-tier devices experienced heightened demand, the prevalence of load-shedding contributed to this trend, as people increasingly prioritize smartphones with quality screens and robust battery life to keep them entertained during power outages.”

“Nigeria’s smartphone market expanded substantially, with Transsion playing a pivotal role by offering entry-level devices and Xiaomi successfully positioning itself as an aspirational brand for many consumers…a strategy also successful for Xiaomi in North African countries such as Egypt and Morocco. Egypt experienced double-digit 19% growth in smartphone shipments, signalling vendors have successfully addressed the challenges posed by strict import restrictions in the previous year.” 

Pravinkumar noted that Canalys expected single-digit growth in 2024, with challenges such as currency devaluation, increased import taxes, and government initiatives promoting local production potentially leading to cost and price hikes. The next few years will likely see 2G plateau in Africa, while 4G and 5G are expected to grow.

“Africa's smartphone market narrative unfolds as a compelling story of overcoming challenges with resilience and capitalising on opportunities through strategic partnerships, channel dynamics, and a transforming consumer landscape. As the market evolves, vendors must navigate these complexities with agility and foresight to secure a pivotal position in this burgeoning market”, concluded Pravinkumar.

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