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Africa’s smartphone market declines for third successive quarter

Smartphone shipments across Africa declined year on year (YoY) in the first quarter of 2022 (Q1 2022), marking the third straight quarter of negative growth. The latest Quarterly Global Mobile Phone Tracker from International Data Corporation (IDC) shows that smartphone vendors shipped a total of 19.7 million smartphones across Africa in Q1 2022, down 15.7% YoY. In the feature phone space, shipments were down 26.6% to 21.9 million units as vendors are transitioning away from these devices toward entry-level smartphones.

“While ongoing supply and logistical challenges were expected to cause some declines in Q1 2022, things seem to have taken a turn for the worse, with concerns around inflation and economic instability dampening consumer sentiment and spending,” says Arnold Ponela, a senior research analyst at IDC. “This situation has been further exacerbated by the rising costs of components and transportation, as well as by the recent lockdowns in China.”

Egypt, which accounts for nearly 10.5% of the African smartphone market, saw the biggest declines, with smartphone shipments down 43.2% YoY in Q1 2022 as the government moved to introduce new import regulations on all goods and a new 10% customs on mobile phones. The Nigerian smartphone market was down 19.6%, and the outlook for many African markets remains uncertain. South Africa and Kenya were the only markets to post YoY growth in Q1 2022, with shipments up 3.7% and 4.5%, respectively. But this was off a low base from Q1 2021 when these markets were severely hampered by stock shortages.

Despite the challenging market conditions, vendor rankings in the smartphone space did not change much in Q1 2022. Transsion brands (Tecno, Itel, and Infinix) led the way with 42.7% unit share, its lowest since Q2 2020. Samsung placed second with 26.8% share, while Xiaomi (6.6%), OPPO (5.4%), and HMD (3.7%) rounded out the top five. Transsion brands (Tecno and Itel) also dominated the feature phone landscape with a combined share of 67.6%. Nokia placed third with 12.6% share.

In terms of price bands, the share of smartphones priced below $100 decreased from 45.4% in Q4 2021 to 37.2% in Q1 2022, while the share of devices priced $100–$200 increased from 35.7% to 41.4% over the same period. The midrange segment ($200<$400) also benefited from the decline in the $0–$100 price band, with its share increasing from 14.1% to 16.9%. "Given the ongoing supply and logistical challenges, the average selling price of smartphones has risen in Africa, with the share of 5G devices being shipped across the region rising from 4.3% in Q4 2021 to 5.6% in Q1 2022," says Ramazan Yavuz, a research manager at IDC. CT Bureau

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