Africa's overall mobile phone market grew 4.6 percent quarter on quarter (QoQ) in Q4 2020 buoyed by Chinese smartphones, according to the latest figures announced by International Data Corporation (IDC) on Tuesday.
The global technology research and consulting services firm's newly released report says China's Transsion brands (Tecno, Itel, and Infinix) led the African smartphone market in Q4 2020 with a combined unit share of 48.2 percent.
Samsung and Oppo placed second and third with respective unit shares of 16.1 percent and 6.4 percent.
"The infrastructure investment required on the telecom side to drive 5G adoption is understandably lacking at the moment, since the primary desire of telecom firms is to utilize their existing 4G capacity," George Mbuthia, a research analyst at IDC said in the report released in Nairobi.
"On the device side, most vendors are now starting to launch their 5G models in the market, and the cost of 5G devices is expected to decline significantly over the medium term, leading to much faster growth for 5G handsets," Mbuthia added.
According to the report, feature phone shipments to the region grew 7.6 percent QoQ in Q4 2020, while smartphone shipments increased 0.7 percent over the same period. However, on year on year (YoY) smartphone shipments were down 4.5 percent on the corresponding quarter of 2019, while feature phone shipments were down 8 percent.
According to IDC, Africa's overall mobile phone market declined 10.0 percent in 2020, due in large part to the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the first half of the year.
The report says South Africa led the way in the smartphone space, with shipments increasing 16.3 percent in Q4 2020 followed by Nigerian smartphone market which grew 12.1 percent QoQ, while Egypt's growth was much slower at just 1.8 percent.
Shipments of devices from the lowest price band of below 8,775 shillings (80 U.S. dollars) declined 14.5 percent QoQ in Q4 2020, while the 200-300 dollar band saw the highest growth, with shipments of these devices increasing 43.7 percent.
The report says 4G devices accounted for 83.9 percent of the smartphones shipped in the African market during Q4 2020; 3G devices garnered 15.4 percent share, with 5G devices accounting for the remaining 0.7 percent.
IDC expects smartphone shipments into Africa to grow 2.9 percent YoY in 2021.
"The first half of the year is likely to be slower as vendors face component shortages," said Ramazan Yavuz, a senior research manager at IDC.
"However, a recovery is expected to start from the second half of 2021. With the expansion of vaccination programs and a subsequent slowdown in the spread of the COVID-19, markets across the region are expected to return to normal in H2 2021, with retail channels performing better and purchasing power starting to improve," Yuvuz added. ■