Africa’s Smartphone Market Suffers Significant Decline in Q1 2019


Market intelligence firm, International Data Corporation’s (IDC) Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, shows that Africa’s mobile phone market started 2019 off with a drastic quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) decline. Interestingly, when compared with the Q1 figure of 2018, the market actually experienced an increase of 5.6%.

Smartphone shipments for the first quarter of the year in Africa totaled 21.5 million units, signifying a 7.1% decline in shipments from Q4 2018.

Examining the two biggest markets on the continent, Nigeria and South Africa, IDC was able to denote the reason for the decline to be due to the slow economic activity which is synonymous with Q1.

In Nigeria, smartphone shipments totaled 2.3 million units which shows a 14.7% QoQ and 11.9% YoY decline. This poor performance according to IDC can also be attributed to the country’s 3-week ban on shipments of Chinese mobile phone brands, which negatively affected major market players.

Other happenings such as the insecurity currently faced in parts of the country and the postponement of the general elections were said to have played roles in the decline as well.

For South Africa, the market suffered a massive 23.4% QoQ and 4.0% YoY decline with only 4.7 million units shipped. And in addition to economic factors, IDC also recognised the issue of overstocking as playing a huge role in the decline. Merchants were said to have stocked huge volumes of smartphones because of the festive season during Q4 2018. This perhaps translated to fewer shipments in Q1 since the stock had likely not been exhausted.

Image result for A smartphone store

The report also shows that 4G LTE networks are continuing their spread across Africa, with shipments of 4G LTE enabled devices increasing 15.1% YoY to constitute 67.1% of the smartphone market.

For the feature phone space, shipments were down 5.8% QoQ and 0.3% YoY in Q1 2019, with shipments totaling 31.6 million units. However, feature phones still constitute a significant 59.9% share of the total African mobile phone market due to their relative affordability and durability.

Transsion Holdings Continues to Lead the Market

Due to its low-end/mid-range devices (Itel, Tecno and Infinix), Transsion continues its dominance on the smartphone space with a unit share of 33.1%, beating Samsung and Huawei who had 24.5%, and 11.8%.

Also in the feature phone space, the Chinese OEM continues to dominate with its Tecno and Itel devices and a market share of 59.7%, followed by HMD (Nokia phones) with a 9.2% share.

Moving forward, IDC expects Africa’s overall mobile phone market (smart and feaure phones) to total 50.9 million units in Q2 2019 – which will reflect a YoY decline of 5.3%. This is expected to be caused by sharp downturns in most African countries. Also, the rise of protectionist measures put in place by governments to control smartphone shipments will play a huge role.

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