IDC reported smartphone shipments in Africa were up 12 per cent year-on-year in Q4 2023 to 19.8 million units, due in part to strong uptake of low-end Chinese brands across the region.

It noted the increase came in the face of high inflation, local currency devaluations and foreign exchange shortages.

In contrast, IDC stated Africa’s feature phone market shipments decreased 7.8 per cent over the same timeframe to total 20.9 million units.

By country, IDC analyst George Mbuthia stated Kenya recorded the highest growth rate in terms of smartphone shipments in Q4, owing in part to mobile phone financing schemes enabling consumers to buy new smartphones by making payments over a long period of time.

Nigeria posted the second-largest growth rate “thanks to a strong push by Chinese brands,” while South Africa recorded a decline “due to the challenging economic environment and partly due to delays in shipments at the country’s ports”.

IDC noted Transsion devices continued to dominate Africa’s smartphone market through low-end devices that cost $100. Samsung and Xiaomi followed in second and third place, respectively.

For 2024, the research company forecast year over year growth in smartphone shipments of 2.8 per cent. Ramazan Yavuz, a senior research manager at IDC, noted “handset renewal cycles have slowed as smartphones carry better features, increasing their longevity, and are more durable”.

“However, in Africa, the transition from feature phones will support smartphone growth in the short and medium term, while AI phones and 5G adoption will fuel Africa’s smartphones growth in the long term”.