Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.

4G/5G

COVID-19 puts major dent in Africa's smartphone market

Article Image
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a big dent in Africa's smartphone shipments in the first quarter of 2020. In fact, it was one of the largest quarterly dips since 2015. This is according to new insights from International Data Corporation (IDC) which said the virus was the main reason for the decline.

IDC's Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker shows that Africa's smartphone market saw shipments decline 17.8% quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) in Q1 2020, to 20.1 million units. The overall mobile phone market totaled 46.8 million units, down 20.5% QoQ, with feature phones accounting for 57.1% share of total units in Africa versus smartphones at 42.9%.

IDC explained that COVID-19 had a two-stage negative impact on Africa's smartphone shipments in early 2020.

"The pandemic initially restricted the supply of shipments into the region in February as manufacturers in China closed their doors. Then in March, the situation worsened as consumer demand was hit by local measures and lockdowns to combat the spread of the disease," the research and consulting firm said in a statement.

The pandemic negatively impacted all African countries but particularly the big markets of South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt, which suffered declines of 22.9%, 13.6% and 6.3%, respectively.

In March, IDC also warned that East Africa could expect a slowdown in its smartphone market during the coming quarters due to COVID-19.

However, the pandemic will likely boost spending on public cloud in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa (META) region as the crisis continues.

In terms of smartphone makers, Transsion brands (Tecno, Infinix and Itel) continued to lead the smartphone space in Africa in the first quarter of the year with a combined unit share of 36.7%. This was followed by Samsung with 18.8% market share and Huawei with 11.1%.

"COVID-19 severely disrupted the industry in Q1 2020, while consumer demand also showed signs of a mild decline," said Taher Abdel-Hameed, a senior research analyst at IDC.

"In such an environment, consumers are moving towards more affordable entry-level and mid-range devices. Xiaomi benefited from this trend and was able to drive growth over the quarter while most of the other popular brands reported declines," Abdel-Hameed added.

Looking ahead, IDC expects Africa's smartphone market to decline 9.1% year-on-year in unit terms for 2020 as a whole.

"A significant portion of mobile phone channels are closed in the region and economies have slowed down quite significantly during Q2 2020, which will lead to a weaker Q2 performance," said Ramazan Yavuz, a senior research manager at IDC.

"While we expect to see a recovery in the second half of the year through normalization efforts undertaken by governments, the heavy impact of the pandemic on the economies will be felt on the overall 2020 smartphone market," he concluded.

— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

Innovation hub

Story

Connecting Africa Podcast: S2 Ep. 4 – Agri-fintech, from kibbutz to Kenya

The Connecting Africa Podcast team speak to Israeli-Kenyan startup Avenews' co-founder and CEO, Shalom Ben-Or, about his fintech super-app that has been built specifically for Africa's agriculture industry.

Story

Hot startup of the month: Cloud-native developer Deimos

This month's hot startup is pan-African cloud technology and professional services company Deimos which is on a mission to be the leading cloud-native technology company in Africa.

More Innovation hub

Flash poll

All polls

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Africa Tech Perspectives

Story

Women in Tech: Spotlight on inclusivity with Digital Council Africa's Juanita Clark

Digital Council Africa founder and CEO, Juanita Clark, talks to Connecting Africa as part of our Women's Month series about her career and what needs to be done to make the tech industry intentionally inclusive.

Story

Women in Tech: Spotlight on legal tech with Life.file's Sinal Govender

Life.file co-founder, Sinal Govender, talks to Connecting Africa as part of our Women's Month series about her career and how we can encourage more young girls to enter the legal tech field.

Story

Digital inclusion as a catalyst for economic empowerment: Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu

Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu talks to Connecting Africa about how digital payment solutions and mobile money are transforming the lives of small business owners, women and marginalized groups in East Africa.

More AfricaCom perspectives

Latest video

More videos

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Guest Perspectives

Story

Omdia View: July 2022

By Omdia Analysts

Kenya and Zambia move towards 5G with new spectrum allocations while Tunisie Telecom plans to shut down its 3G network - that and more in this month's Omdia View.

Story

Omdia View: June 2022

By Omdia Analysts

5G was the major news trend across Africa in June, as Orange became the first operator to launch 5G in Réunion and operators in Senegal accelerated their 5G plans despite spectrum delays.

More Guest Perspectives

Sponsored video

More videos

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up


Sign Up