Africa’s smartphone revolution is showing signs of a slowdown according to the latest figures compiled by International Data Corporation (IDC). The global technology research and consulting services firm says the continent’s smartphone market totaled 95.37 million units in 2016.
And while this is up 3.4 per cent year on year, it represents a considerable deceleration from the double-digit growth rates seen in the previous two years, with demand being hampered by the currency fluctuations that are affecting the continent.
Overall, 215.33 million mobile handsets were shipped in Africa during 2016, up 10.1 per cent on the previous year. However, it was feature phones that were largely responsible for this growth, with shipments increasing 16.1 per cent year on year in 2016 to total 119.97 million units. This growth saw feature phones increase their unit share of Africa’s overall handset market from 53 per cent in 2015 to 56 per cent in 2016.
“Africa has always been a tough market for mobile phone companies to crack, and in 2016 that challenge got even harder,” says Simon Baker, programme director for mobile devices at IDC CEMA.
“Many African economies struggled throughout 2016, and this had an inevitable knock-on effect on the smartphone market, which had previously experienced a very strong 2015. It was a particularly tough year in Nigeria, with the devaluation of the naira causing a drop in confidence in the distribution channel. And while North African markets saw an increase in overall handset shipments in 2016, the pace of growth slowed year on year due to exchange-rate fluctuations in Egypt and security issues in Algeria.”
Samsung continued to lead the African smartphone market in 2016, largely through a reworked product portfolio that now includes more mid- to low-range models.