Africa's Smartphone Market Declines Amid Inflationary Pressures and Weaker Demand
Mar 8, 2023
Johannesburg – Africa's smartphone market declined for the sixth consecutive quarter in Q4 2022, with shipments down 17.8% year on year (YoY) to 17.6 million units. That's according to the latest insights from International Data Corporation (IDC), with the firm's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker showing that Africa's feature phone market also declined in Q4 2022, with shipments down 16.2% to total 22.7 million units.
"The mobile phone industry is now challenged by constrained demand even though the supply constraints that had previously been weighing on the market have started to ease off," says Arnold Ponela, a senior research analyst at IDC. "Inflation and economic uncertainty have seriously dampened consumer spending, causing vendors to cut back drastically on shipments as their largest markets continue to struggle. The situation is not unique to Africa, with smartphone shipments declining across all major global markets in 2022."
The biggest decline was seen in Egypt, where smartphone shipments were down 56.2% YoY in Q4 2022, with the introduction of new import regulations leading to device shortages and higher prices. This situation has been further exacerbated by the Egyptian pound's devaluation against the U.S. dollar, the challenging economic environment, and the fact that the government has approved very few letters of credit (LCs), which are required for import payments on non-essential goods such as mobile phones.
Nigeria's smartphone market declined 32.1% YoY in Q4 2022 due to sustained high inflation and a shortage of U.S. dollars in the country. South Africa was the least affected market in the region, declining just 1.8% YoY, thanks to an increased focus on the country from Chinese vendors, an improved performance from local brands, and promotional activities that took place during the festive season.
Rising inflation and growing macroeconomic issues continue to restrict consumer spending, causing vendors to be increasingly cautious with their shipments. Transsion brands (Tecno, Itel, and Infinix) led the region's overall smartphone market in Q4 2022 with 43.4% unit share, spurred by its strong portfolio of entry-level devices. Samsung took second place with 28.7% share thanks to the strong performance of its A04 model. Xiaomi ranked third with 7.0% share. Transsion brands (Tecno and Itel) also dominated the feature phone landscape, garnering a combined unit share of 78.8%. Nokia ranked third in this space with 5.9% share.
In terms of price bands, the share of smartphones priced below $100 remained flat (from 42.0% in Q3 2022 to 41.7% in Q4 2022), while the share of devices priced $100–$200 increased from 41.6% to 43.8% over the same period, spurred by the performance of Samsung's A series. The midrange segment ($200<$400) contracted slightly, from a share of 11.6% to 10.5%.
IDC expects the market's demand constraints to improve in the mid-term and for smartphone shipments to rebound in 2023 with YoY growth of 3.0%. "This is modest growth for Africa but given the level of uncertainty in the global and regional economy, there is room for cautiousness in the region's smartphone markets," says Ramazan Yavuz, a research manager at IDC. "Inflationary pressures are set to persist and the repercussions of a global economic downturn are likely to impact consumer spending and vendor appetite. In the worst case scenario, any possible recovery will be pushed back to the very end of 2023."
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