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Smartphone Shipments in Africa Suffer Greatest Decline Since 2015

Africa smartphone

  • The IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, show that the smartphone industry in Africa saw shipments fall to 20.1 million in the first quarter of 2020, compared to 21.5 million in Q1 2019.
  • Nigerian market showed slightly better performance compared to South Africa and Egypt. The IDC predicted a 15.4% decline in Nigeria’s smartphone shipments, but the current statistics showed a 13.6% decline in Q1 2020.
  • IDC projects smartphone shipments in 2020 would decline by as much as 9.1% as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

As per the International Data Corporation’s (IDC) Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, the smartphone industry in Africa saw shipments fall to 20.1 million in the first quarter of 2020, compared to 21.5 million in Q1 2019. The revenue fall is higher than the 14.9% which the IDC projected in March.

The smartphone market in South Africa experienced the largest decline as shipments dropped by 22.9% in the first quarter.

In Egypt, sales reduced to 2.82 million in Q1 2020, down 6.3% from the previous quarter.

Nigerian market showed slightly better performance than expected. The IDC projected a 15.4% decline in Nigeria’s smartphone shipments, but the latest statistics showed a 13.6% decline in Q1 2020. IDC credits this to industry leaders, including Transsion Holdings, for their resilience.

In April, TechCabal had reported that Transsion’s marketing activities were still in full force despite the pandemic. It continued to launch new products across Africa as existing ones were ramped up in marketing.

“The market’s Chinese players continued with aggressive marketing and branding activities that helped them to retain notable market shares despite the supply issues thrown up by the pandemic,” IDC explained.

Transsion boasts 76.8% of all smartphone shipments in Nigeria. Samsung, Xiaomi and Huawei accounted for 7.2%, 4.9% and 3.2% respectively.

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Meanwhile, the drop in smartphone shipments across Africa does not come as surprise. The COVID-19 pandemic has had many effects on the continent.

While China took steps to contain the outbreak, the first four months of 2019 marked a significant blow to global supply chains. Yet as the virus spread to other nations, a ripple has been triggered by security measures including lockdowns and bans on the selling of non-essential services. Factories were shut down forcing ships to arrive ports without cargo.

“Consumer demand was hit by local measures and lockdowns to combat the spread of the disease,” IDC said.

Although the shutdown measures significantly affected supply chain operations, the pandemic’s economy remains a concern.

The pandemic has decreased consumer purchasing power in an already low-income region and forced people to focus more on basic needs. The oil-driven economy in Nigeria has suffered as crude oil prices have been volatile.

“In such an environment, consumers are moving towards more affordable entry-level and mid-range devices,” said Taher Abdel-Hameed, a senior research analyst at IDC.

IDC projects smartphone shipments in 2020 would decline by as much as 9.1%. Senior research manager at IDC, Ramazan Yavuz said.“the heavy impact of the pandemic on the economies will be felt on the overall 2020 smartphone market.”

“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”.

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