Egypt, Tunisia suffer largest decline as Africa’s smartphone market slumped by 18% in 2022

Ganiu Oloruntade
Africa's smartphone market
Image Source: Technext.

Thanks to dampened consumer demand, inflation, and economic uncertainties, the global smartphone market suffered its largest-ever decline last year. Government restrictions on mobile phone imports in Egypt saw a massive decline in the Nation’s smartphone market.

Like other global markets, Africa’s smartphone market had its fair share of the drop as shipments to the continent dropped by 18% last year, according to the Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, released by the International Data Corporation (IDC), a global market intelligence provider.

According to IDC, 73.4 million units were shipped into Africa in 2022, following a pattern of quarterly declines. In Q1 2022, vendors shipped 19.7 million smartphones across Africa, shrinking by 15.7% year-on-year. Smartphone shipments to Africa were down 7.9% quarter-on-quarter in Q2 2022, with the top three smartphone markets by unit share being South Africa (16.6%), Nigeria (13.8%), and Kenya (7.7%).

Africa’s overall mobile phone market suffered a year-on-year decline of 19.9% in Q3 2022 to a total of 42.2 million units, with the two major markets — South Africa and Nigeria — falling 16.2% and 21.1%, respectively.

The IDC had predicted that Africa and emerging markets in Asia/Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East would see a more significant double-digit decline in phone shipment for the rest of last year. But the numbers show otherwise, as shipments shrunk by 18% in 2022.

Read also: Africa’s smartphone market witnesses a further decline in Q3 of 2022 – IDC Tracker.

Chinese products dominate

Of the total 73.4 million units shipped into Africa last year, South Korea’s Samsung, and Chinese brands Tecno and Itel, accounted for 65% of the figure. Similarly, 82% of the total smartphone shipment on the continent comprised devices costing less than $200.

Though Africa prides itself on being the world’s fastest-growing mobile phone market, the continent is dominated by Chinese brands whose products are preferred for their relatively affordable prices and features.

On a global scale, as we earlier reported, Samsung continued its dominance in the global smartphone shipment market in 2022, recording 260.9 million units in shipments to claim a 21.6% market share. This represents a slight 4.1% year-over-year decline. Despite its impressive run in the fourth quarter of 2022, Apple ended the year in the second spot, shipping 226.4 million units with an 18.8% market, marking a 4.0% year-over-year decline.

Africa's smartphone market
Image Source: CNET.

In Africa’s smartphone market, Egypt and Tunisia experienced the greatest year-on-year declines of 63% and 33%, respectively. For Egypt, this large decline was due to several restrictions imposed by the government on mobile phone imports during the year.

But 2023 holds some promise for the North African country after the government expressed readiness to release all goods — including imported mobile phones — stuck at ports, according to local reports.

Read also: Samsung retains top spot for 2022 as global smartphone shipments suffer largest-ever decline in Q4.

Two sides to a coin

Heading into 2023, experts predict a rocky year for the global smartphone market, which will hit nearly all the markets. Anthony Scarsella, research director with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, said the global smartphone market would continue to witness a dwindle in consumer demand due to uncertainties in most markets, including Africa. He, however, added the global market would think of new methods to drive sales.

But, Dr Ramazan Yavuz, a senior research manager at IDC Middle East and Africa, believes that Africa’s smartphone market will record significant recovery this year.

Image Source: Pew Research Center.

“While 2022 has been a year of downturn in the African smartphone market, a return to growth is expected in the mid-term. This growth will be spurred by a return to normalcy in the North African markets and an influx of more affordable models to offset declining consumer disposable income in most countries across the region,” he told TechCrunch

Yavuz anchored this optimism on two factors: the transition from feature phones to smartphones remains underway on the continent, and the rise in Africa’s young and technology-savvy population.

Related article: Africa’s mobile economy is headed towards boom in the next three years.

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