Smartphone boom in Africa

The Middle East and Africa (MEA) handset market grew to its largest size in ten quarters in Q2 2014, expanding 27% year on year to total 64 million units, according to data from the International Data Corporation (IDC).

The IDC said that the majority of this growth was seen in the smartphone category, with a major shift underway in the composition of the market.

The smartphone share of the overall MEA handset market jumped 13 percentage points year on year to reach 40% in Q2 2014, with that figure reaching as high as 75–80% in some of the region’s more developed countries.

In Africa, Egypt and South Africa posted the largest year-on-year handset shipment growth, at 37% and 32%, respectively; while in the Middle East, the top growth spot was taken by the UAE and Qatar, with respective growth of 27% and 32%.

The remaining MEA countries also posted growth over the same quarter in 2013, despite some — such as Iraq and Syria — experiencing extreme levels of instability.

“This universal growth is unique to this technology segment,” said Nabila Popal, research manager with IDC’s Systems and Infrastructure Systems Group.

“This is because phones are no longer simply a means of communication between people. Indeed, smartphones are becoming a way of expression and a window to the rest of the world, and this aspect is proving particularly important in lesser developed countries that are suffering from unrelenting political turmoil.”

The Q2 2014 IDC Handsets Quarterly Tracker shows that the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Kuwait are leading the smartphone migration trend, with smartphone share in each country surpassing 75%.

However, even for countries with lower smartphone penetration levels like Nigeria and Kenya, the share has doubled since this time last year and continues to grow at a rapid pace, IDC said.

Vendor leaders

In the smartphone class, Samsung remains the comfortable leader with 45% of the MEA market, but its share is down 8 points from a year ago.

Huawei’s share has jumped from 2% to 10%, putting the vendor in second place, ahead of Apple (8%) and Nokia (6%).

BlackBerry continued to suffer, enduring the biggest drop in smartphone market share of all vendors, from over 12% in 2013 to just under 2% this year, IDC noted.

MEA market vendors
MEA market vendors

In the feature phone segment, Nokia is still top with 35% share, although this is down from 47% in Q2 2013.

Techno, Samsung, and Qmobile (a brand from Pakistan) follow in that order, with shares of 11.5%, 10.7%, and 7.3% respectively, all of which also refect year-on-year share declines.

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Smartphone boom in Africa