As China’s smartphone market comes out of its fourth consecutive quarter of year-on-year declines, domestic companies are increasingly placing their bets elsewhere. Besides other parts of Asia, one area of planned growth has been Africa, a recent report by tech research firm IDC shows.
There, the overall phone market has seen a 2.1% decline, accompanying an overall downturn across the world. Smartphone shipments fared better, however, with a 1.3% drop from the previous quarter compared to a global average decline of 6%.
According to DigiTimes, IDC research manager Ramazan Yavuz stated that “There is a new wave of China-based brands aggressively pursuing growth opportunities” across the African continent.
In terms of feature phones–which offer less functionality than smartphones at cheaper prices–three brands under Chinese phone manufacturer Transsion took up 58.2% of market share in the third quarter, with Nokia trailing behind at close to 12%.
The Chinese smartphone maker you’ve never heard of is dominating the African market
When it came to the smartphone market, Transsion again dominated with 34.9% of market share, although Samsung beat it out when it came to the value of phones sold. Huawei placed third both in terms of shipments (10.2%) and value (13%).
Notably, both South Africa and Kenya’s phone markets were up 8% from the second quarter due to increased penetration of low-end and entry-level devices, respectively. In Kenya, the market expanded despite hikes in taxes and fuel prices.
Nigeria, by contrast, saw an 11% drop in shipments due to “slowdown in gov’t spending, ongoing warfare in the country’s northern states, and market uncertainty in the lead up to elections,” IDC analyst George Mbuthia said.
Yavuz added that “These [Chinese] brands have quickly progressed along the learning curve… by addressing the diverse pricing and feature needs of the consumer base.”
Despite the preference for feature phones in rural areas, sellers like Xiaomi, Huawei, and Oppo are attracting more interest among local buyers, according to IDC.
Although Huawei is performing well in terms of phone sales, it’s unclear whether that will also be the case for its grand plans to establish 5G networks across the world. The CEO of South Africa-based telecom company MTN, which partnered with Huawei to conduct the continent’s first 5G outdoor trial in May, told media that actual rollout could be limited in scope.
The US has also urged its allies to stop working with Huawei and fellow Chinese telecom company ZTE due to fears of espionage, leading New Zealand to block Huawei from supplying 5G equipment to the country.