Africa’s smartphone market shrank 18% last year • TechCrunch

Africa’s smartphone market shrank by 18% in 2022 compared to the previous year, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC). The drop was driven by a reduction in consumer spending due to inflation and economic uncertainties, but it was not unique to Africa, as smartphone shipments fell in key markets last year. According to IDC, the global smartphone market experienced a decline of 11.3%.

In total, 73.4 million units were shipped to Africa, with South Korea’s Samsung and Chinese brands Tecno and Itel accounting for 65% of total shipments.

Devices costing less than $200 accounted for 82% of total smartphone shipments, an indication of why low-cost Chinese products dominated shipping.

Egypt and Tunisia experienced the biggest year-over-year declines of 63% and 33% respectively.

The drop in Egypt is attributable to new import taxes and restrictions that have led to a smartphone shortage and high gadget prices. Egypt’s requirement that all import payments be made through letters of credit (LCs) hurt the market a lot, as the country approved only a few, prioritizing essential goods. The weakening of the country’s currency and the challenging economic environment also negatively impacted the market. Tunisia was affected by the increase in customs tariffs and taxes levied on smartphones.

Kenya and South Africa were least affected, posting a year-on-year decline of 4% and 5% respectively.

“While asset finance platforms and the fact that it is a feeder market for the East African sub-region helped Kenya post a relatively low decline, South Africa benefited from Chinese brands highlighting the country, local brands flexing back and aid subsidies paid by the government”, Dr. Ramazan Yavuz, senior research manager at IDC Middle East and Africa, told TechCrunch.

Yavuz, however, predicts a continent-wide recovery this year.

“Although 2022 was a year of recession in the African smartphone market, a return to growth is expected in the medium term. This growth will be spurred by the return to normality in North African markets and an influx of more affordable models to offset the drop in consumer disposable income in most countries in the region,” he said.

“Second, the transition from feature phones to smartphones is not over yet and a young, tech-savvy population is growing rapidly. Those are two big factors for an optimistic outlook on the large yet unserved addressable smartphone market in Africa.”

The continent also sold 93.4 million feature phone units in 2022, as the market also saw an 18% year-on-year decline.

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