Smartphone shipments in Africa declined 16.2% year-on-year in Q4 2022, marking a sixth quarter of decline, as consumer and vendor confidence was cut by macroeconomic factors, according to analyst firm IDC.
IDC senior research analyst Arnold Ponela said: “The mobile phone industry is now challenged by constrained demand even though the supply constraints that had previously been weighing on the market have started to ease off.
"Inflation and economic uncertainty have seriously dampened consumer spending, causing vendors to cut back drastically on shipments as their largest markets continue to struggle. The situation is not unique to Africa, with smartphone shipments declining across all major global markets in 2022.”
The largest decline was seen in Egypt where shipments plunged 56.2% year-on-year in the quarter, due to new import regulations leading to device shortages and higher prices. Adding to the situation was the Egyptian pound devaluing against the US dollar, macroeconomic factors, and the government approving fewer letters of credit which are needed for import payments on non-essential goods such as mobile phones.
Nigeria was also highlighted by the analyst company, where the smartphone market declined 32.1% in the quarter due to sustained inflation and a shortage of US dollars in the country.
South Africa saw a minimal decline with a rate of 1.8% due to bolstering partnerships with Chinese vendors and improving performance from local brands and promotional activities during the festive period.
Transsion, the owner of Tecno, Itel and Infinix, had the largest market share with 43.4% due to its large portfolio of entry-level devices. Samsung was in second place with 28.7%, and Xiaomi ranked third taking 7%
IDC predicted smartphone demand will rebound in 2023 with a growth of 3%.
This is modest growth for Africa but given the level of uncertainty in the global and regional economy, there is room for cautiousness in the region's smartphone markets," said Ramazan Yavuz, a research manager at IDC.
"Inflationary pressures are set to persist and the repercussions of a global economic downturn are likely to impact consumer spending and vendor appetite. In the worst case scenario, any possible recovery will be pushed back to the very end of 2023."