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Phone makers relish N938.3bn prospect as handset market booms

Global phone manufacturers are drooling over the enormous revenue potential in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy by GDP, as the mobile handset market in the country is expected to deliver a 13-percent year-on-year growth in 2015, market analysts have said.

The country’s mobile phone market is currently valued at $5.1 billion, according to African global market research agency, GfK, and is expected to grow to $5.7 billion in 2015, representing a y-o-y growth rate of 13 percent.

Nigeria remains a critical African destination for mobile device makers and has also become one of the top $10-billion emerging markets projected to dominate growth in the global device market, says GfK, which has released part of its 2015 forecasts for sales of technology devices.

In view of this, there is a massive influx of foreign and local manufacturers setting up shop in Nigeria, and BusinessDay has learnt that the world’s slimmest smartphone, according to the Guinness Book of Records, will be launched first in the country.

Brovo Kim, managing director, Samsung Electronics, West Africa, is not surprised about Nigeria’s huge growth prospect. “The sheer size of the Nigerian market is enough incentive for any foreign handset maker to come in,” says Kim.

Nigeria is a lure for foreign and local Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) due to its large population (170 million). The country has over 130 million active mobile phone subscribers.

Adebayo Shobanjo, network operations manager, Infinix Mobility, says Nigeria is the foremost market in Africa for mobile technologies, adding that the demand is not even near being met.

“That makes Nigeria a hot zone for mobile phones. Some of the factors responsible for this include the population, lifestyle and a growing economy. Nigeria has a population that is about a quarter of Africa’s population. So, the market is very huge,” says Shobanjo in an interview.

Device makers will earn big in Nigeria, which ranks third only after India and China in the 2015 forecast of the Top 10 largest technology device growth markets across the world.

GfK’s technology device forecasts cover 70 different digital device types globally and indicate that the overall market in 2015 will remain at $1 trillion, just as it has been since 2011. However, the 10 largest growth markets will increase by over $10 billion alone and be dominated by emerging markets. India provides by far the greatest opportunity, primarily driven by sales of smartphones, where both volume and pricing will contribute to an overall technology device growth of nearly $5 billion in 2015, according to GfK.

As expected, the global feature phone market continues to decline rapidly, with GfK’s forecasts showing sales by volume dropping 20 percent and sales by value dropping 30 percent.

However, feature phone vendors in emerging APAC countries and the Middle East and Africa can be slightly happier, with forecast markets size of $5.1 billion and $4.3 billion, respectively.

“The size of the feature phone market in emerging APAC countries, the Middle East and Africa also provides opportunities for the low-end smartphone makers, as we are seeing clear evidence of consumers willing to accept a price jump when they upgrade from a feature phone to their first smart phone,” says Kevin Walsh, forecasting director at GfK.

GfK’s forecasts show that worldwide, the smartphone continues to grow strongly, in terms of volume of sales, increasing by 18 percent for 2015. But there is significant shift in which countries will see those growth opportunities, with the emerging markets dominating.

“Our forecasts show seven new entries in the top 10 smartphone markets for 2015, in terms of growth by value – and these are all emerging markets, which have overtaken developed markets where smartphone saturation is nearing completion,” says Walsh.

Ben Uzor