Smartphone Shipments Surpass Feature Phones in Africa for the First Time

An image showcasing the rise of smartphones in Africa, featuring people using modern smartphones in various settings such as urban areas, markets, and

For the first time, smartphone shipments have surpassed feature phone stock in Africa, highlighting the increasing adoption of advanced handsets across the region. According to a report by analyst firm IDC, smartphone units grew by 17.9% year-on-year, reaching 20.2 million units in the first quarter of this year, while feature phone shipments declined by 15.9% to 18.8 million units.

IDC Senior Research Analyst Arnold Ponela noted that South Africa and Nigeria, the largest smartphone markets in Africa, drove this growth, largely due to the popularity of Chinese brands. Kenya, the third-largest smartphone market in Africa, also contributed significantly to sales growth through financing schemes.

Transsion, the company behind the Tecno, Itel, and Infinix brands, was the leading smartphone vendor in Africa, thanks to its “compelling entry-level portfolio” tailored to the African market. Meanwhile, Samsung and Xiaomi gained market share from the previous quarter, driven by mid-range models priced between $200 and $400. IDC did not provide a detailed market share breakdown.

The report indicated that shipments of mid-range smartphones increased in Q1, while sub-$100 devices declined, suggesting a growing consumer preference for feature-rich models.

Looking ahead, IDC predicts the African smartphone market will experience 5.7% year-on-year growth in 2024. Growth is expected to continue over the next five years.

“Africa remains a market with a high share of feature phones, although they are expected to gradually decline as the transition to smartphones gains momentum,” said IDC Research Manager Akash Balachandran.

“This shift, coupled with rising demand, will be the key driver of overall growth in the smartphone market. Persistent inflationary pressures and escalating macroeconomic uncertainties may cause short-term fluctuations but will not impede the long-term transition.”

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