African countries have served as the one of the primary growth engines for the global smartphone market over the past few years.
This is according to a new report by Strategy Analytics which found that the continent was directly reflected by global smartphone sales in 2016, which grew at a modest 2% while the landscape in Africa also saw a dip from what had been a 39% year-on-year growth rate.
However, smartphone manufacturers and component developers have good reason to believe another boom is right around the corner, and last year’s decline in smartphone shipments into Africa is likely to be a blip on the radar before high growth rates resume.
“The stalling smartphone growth last year caught the industry by surprise, but shouldn’t be seen as a long-term trend,” said Dominique Friedl, head of corporate sales for Sub Saharan Africa at MediaTek, one of the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturers and a major supplier of components to makers of mobile devices.
“The slow-down is the result of saturated market situations in several regions and complicated by economic headwinds in some countries.”
This was confirmed by Strategy Analytics which expects the Africa Middle East region will be the growth engine for the global smartphone market in the upcoming years.
The Middle East region of Africa is projected to grow at 13% in 2017 and 9% in 2018, respectively.
A similar “return to normality” is expected for the South African region said Strategy Analytics, with industry leaders expected to increase their focus on putting affordable smartphones in more people’s hands as mobile subscriber penetration approaches saturation levels across Africa.
This focus on smartphones, in turn, will help boost data revenues for network operators in a market where voice revenue growth has flatlined, it said.
“According to the GSM Association, average selling price (ASP) of smartphones has fallen significantly in most markets across sub-Saharan Africa.
“Smartphone average prices across Africa were $160 (R2,130) in 2015, down from around $230 (R3,062) in 2012. Sub $50 (R665) smartphones are becoming a reality, with prices below $30 (R400) as the next target,” said Strategy Analytics.
“Cost-effective components, leaner operating systems and larger volumes will help reduce the pricing and drive sales.
“Other key factors bringing down prices include the pending availability of Android Go, a streamlined version of the Google mobile operating system, and the rise of chipset manufacturers offering systems-on-chip (SoCs).
“These will could add a further half a billion smartphone connections by 2020,” it said.