• Thursday, July 18, 2024
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Entry-level Chinese phones expand smartphone penetration in Nigeria

Global smartphone demand down despite shipment growth — IDC

Entry-level Chinese phone brands are expanding smartphone penetration in Nigeria. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), this growth in the country’s smartphone market was recorded in the first quarter of 2023 despite economic headwinds.

Smartphones are often the major means through which many Nigerians access the Internet. According to GSMA, the global association for telecommunications companies, 58 percent of Nigerians living in urban areas and 32 percent living in rural areas owned smartphones in 2022, highlighting a digital inclusion gap.

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IDC disclosed that in Q1 2023, the African smartphone market demonstrated resilience in the face of macroeconomic challenges and forex issues, growing shipments by 17.9 percent year-on-year to 20.2 million units.

The firm’s newly released Quarterly Global Mobile Phone Tracker showed that feature phone shipments declined 15.9 percent over the same period to 18.8 million units. This marks the first quarter in which smartphone shipments have surpassed feature phone shipments in Africa, signifying a transition toward smartphones across the region.

Arnold Ponela, a senior research analyst at IDC, stated that the Nigerian smartphone market recorded growth in the quarter, fueled by the success of Transsion brands and Xiaomi.

“South Africa experienced healthy YoY growth in Q1 2024, driven by the rising popularity and availability of competitively priced Chinese brands with advanced features,” Ponela noted. “Meanwhile, Nigeria saw robust growth fueled by the success of Transsion brands and Xiaomi, particularly in the entry-level segment, which significantly boosted shipments.”

The analyst also mentioned that Kenya further strengthened its position as the third-largest smartphone market in Africa in Q1 2024, with innovative financing models like Mkopa driving sales growth.

IDC reported that in Q1 2024, Transsion brands (Tecno, Itel, Infinix) maintained their leading position in the smartphone market share on the continent. Samsung and Xiaomi also continue to gain considerable market share, driven by mid-range ($200<$400) models.

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In its forecast for 2024, IDC expects the African smartphone market to see shipments increase by 5.7 percent y-o-y, with a sustained upward trajectory for 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 Akash Balachandran, a research manager at IDC. “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.”

Experts attribute the dominance of Chinese phone brands to affordable pricing and compelling entry-level devices tailored to the African market. A recent report from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) revealed that mobile phones from the Chinese Transsion Group comprising Tecno, Infinix, and iTel have the largest number of approved phones in the Nigerian market.