According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), the African smartphone market has shrunk by 18% in 2022 compared to the previous year. The slump was driven by a reduction in consumer spending due to inflation and economic uncertainties, but it wasn’t unique to Africa, as smartphone shipments fell in major markets last year. According to IDC, the global smartphone market is going through a decrease of 11.3%.
A total of 73.4 million units were shipped to Africa, with South Korean 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, a tell-tale sign of why cheap Chinese products dominated freight.
Egypt and Tunisia experienced the largest year-on-year declines of 63% and 33% respectively.
The dip in Egypt is due to new taxes and import restrictions which have led to a caustic shortage of smartphones and high gadget prices. Egypt’s requirement that all import payments be made through letters of credit (LCs) has greatly disrupted the market as the country has only approved a few and has instead prioritized essential goods. The country’s weakening currency and challenging economic climate would also have had a negative impact on the market. Tunisia was hit by an increase in customs tariffs and taxes on smartphones.
Kenya and South Africa were the least affected, with annual declines of 4% and 5% respectively.
“While the asset finance platforms and the fact that it is a feeder market to the East Africa sub-region helped Kenya to post a relatively low decline, South Africa benefited from Chinese brands spotlighting the country, local brands flinching and aid grants paid by the government,” Dr. Ramazan Yavuz, a senior research manager at IDC Middle East and Africa, told businessroundups.org.
However, Yavuz predicts a continental recovery this year.
“Although 2022 was a year of decline in the African smartphone market, a return to growth is expected in the medium term. This growth will be driven by a return to normalcy in North African markets and an influx of more affordable models to offset declining 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 and tech-savvy population is rapidly growing. These are two key factors for an optimistic view of the large addressable smartphone market yet to be served in Africa.”
The continent shipped 93.4 million feature phones in 2022 as the market also fell 18% year over year.