Phone Shipments in Africa’s up 41.6%

The market for affordable smartphones in Africa is growing, despite the economic difficulties caused by inflation and supply chain issues. Vendors are focusing on this segment and launching devices with premium features to target young customers. While Transsion-owned brands Tecno, Infinix, and Itel are the market leaders in the entry-level segment, Samsung is gaining ground with its A04 model, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) quarterly mobile phone tracker report. Realme, which experienced the largest annual growth rate of 71%, is in fourth place with a 3% market share. The entry-level segment of smartphones is expected to grow due to a high demand for affordable devices that are functional and accessible for first-time smartphone owners, which account for 40% of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa.

GSMA’s report shows that the share of smartphones priced at less than $200 rose to 55.3% in Kenya in 2022, indicating vendors’ shift towards lower-priced portfolios. Despite a drop in overall shipments of mobile phones by more than 8 million units between 2021 and 2022, with feature phones recording the largest decline, IDC predicts a modest rebound in 2023, with an annual growth of 3% in shipments to Africa due to improved demand constraints. The South African market was the least affected, with improved performance from incumbent brands and promotional activities during the festive season.

Smartphone financing is also on the rise in Africa, with the buy-now-pay-later model being leveraged to drive mobile adoption. Operators such as Orange and MTN are partnering with financial institutions to facilitate smartphone financing, removing high entry-cost barriers. Asset FinTech company Watu is also offering smartphone financing in Kenya and Tanzania.

The growing demand for affordable smartphones is driving competition in the entry-level segment, and consumers can expect to benefit from improved features in smartphones. For instance, most entry-level smartphones now have high-resolution cameras and powerful batteries to accommodate heavy phone usage, making them attractive to first-time smartphone owners.

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