By 11 June 2018 | Categories: news


Smartphone sales in Africa are not doing as well as one would hope. According to International Data Corporation (IDC), sales on the continent have declined for the second successive quarter.

Its recently published Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker shows that a total of 52.1 million mobile phones were shipped in Q1 2018, down 6.3% quarter on quarter (QoQ) and 3.9% year on year (YoY). Africa’s two biggest markets – Nigeria and South Africa – posted quarter on quarter declines of 6.4% and 27.4%, respectively.

South Africa’s rather staggering difference should not be too worrisome according to Nabila Popal, senior research manager at IDC. "The drop in South Africa is simply down to seasonal factors, with Q1 traditionally being the slowest quarter of the year and unable to match the buoyant sales seen in Q4, traditionally the strongest, when demand is stirred by Black Friday and the Christmas season.

He goes on to note, "While South Africa is one of the continent's most developed markets, a large proportion of the market still centers around low-end to midrange devices priced below $150. Affordable smartphones that fall into this price range have seen a lot of growth over the last two years, fuelled by local brands like Mobicell, MINT, and Vodacom. With disposable income limited for the majority of consumers, most spending on mobile devices takes place in Q4, leading to an inevitable drop-off in Q1."

Looking at smartphones in isolation, shipments declined 4.5% QoQ for the first quarter of the year to total 20.4 million units. This represents a decline of 4.4% YoY, an improvement on the 13.7% YoY decline seen in Q4 2017.

At least feature phones showed stability, with it still dominating the landscape, thanks to a 60.8% share of the mobile phone market in Africa. Here shipments totalled 31.7 million units in Q1 2018, down 7.4% QoQ and 3.6% YoY. Loved because of their strong battery life and affordability, Ramazan Yavuz, research manager at IDC, says, "Feature phones remain a viable option throughout the continent as hardening economic conditions have taken their toll on consumer spending."

Looking ahead, IDC expects Africa's overall mobile phone market to grow 0.5% QoQ in Q2 2018, while shipments for 2018 as a whole are forecast to decline 0.6% YoY.


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