By Juliet Umeh
Although Africa’s smartphone market may have proven to be resilient in the face of coronavirus, Covid-19 pandemic, but its overall mobile phone market saw shipments decline of 6.0 percent quarter on quarter, QoQ, in Q2 2020.
This is according to the statistics released by a technology research and consulting services firm, International Data Corporation, IDC, on Global Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.
The firm’s newly released data shows that Africa’s smartphone market remained flat in Q2 2020, experiencing just 0.1percent growth QoQ, while the region’s feature phone shipments declined 10.6 percent.
Its report has it that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on smartphone shipments has been felt differently across the region. For example, while shipments to South Africa and Nigeria declined 16.8 and 6.8 percent, respectively, QoQ in Q2 2020, Egypt recorded a 2.2 percent increase. Both South Africa and Nigeria adopted strict lockdown measures in April and May, which included the closure of non-essential businesses. By contrast, Egypt adopted a more flexible approach and allowed limited hours of business operations during the second quarter.
Also, it noted that Transsion brands (Tecno, Itel, and Infinix) continued to lead the smartphone market in Q2 2020 with a unit share of 45.2 percent.
It said: “Samsung and Huawei followed with respective unit shares of 19.0% and 8.8%. In terms of value (U.S. dollar), Transsion held 30.1 percent share, while Samsung accounted for 27.8 percent share.
“The average selling price (ASP) for smartphones declined 9.8 percent QoQ in Q2 2020, partially due to the market conditions created by the pandemic and partially due to a continuation in the declining trend of prices. The $0<$80 price band has gained notable share of the smartphone market since the start of the pandemic, growing 18.2 percent QoQ. The availability of such devices helped brands to cope with the weak demand and price consciousness that flourished during the pandemic,” it added. The various lockdowns implemented during Q2 2020 led to the growth of the online distribution channel, while enforced closures caused the decline of physical retail in the region. A Senior Research Manager at IDC, Ramazan Yavuz, said: “Despite a striking increase in online sales, the channel still only accounted for 3.2 percent of the total mobile phones shipped across Africa in Q2 2020," says "Development of the online channel remains fragmented across the region and the infrastructure needs more investment to reach a more promising stance. While the top countries and urban centers benefited from online sales, the diffusion to a larger audience requires time. 4G/LTE-enabled devices saw their share of smartphone shipments increase to 81.1percent in Q2 2020, spurred by the declining ASP of these devices. Also, a research analyst at IDC, George Mbuthia, said: "The absorption of 5G-enabled smartphones in the market remained below 1percent as the cost of 5G devices is prohibitively high and beyond the reach of most consumers. "Also, the telecom infrastructure required to underpin 5G adoption is still undeveloped, with most countries still only conducting limited 5G trials," Mbuthia said. IDC expects Africa's smartphone market to grow 4.2percent QoQ in unit terms in Q3 2020 and by 4.4percent year on year in 2021 as markets start to recover from the negative effects of COVID-19. With the reopening of markets, the retail channel is also expected to recover, although not to the levels it enjoyed before the pandemic.