Smartphone and improved broadband drive trend in sub Saharan Africa

Posted on May 15, 2014 02:36 pm

A new report has revealed this year is expected to see sub Saharan Africa embrace the mobile era to an even greater degree, with people online via mobile devices anywhere at any time. The wide availability of third-generation networks, and 4G networks being rolled out, smartphones and applications have been cited as the one expected to drive this phenomenon. Smartphones this year could account for more than 25 per cent of the mobile phones in the region, a big jump in just a period of years. Interestingly, in the report is chapter titled consumer behavior that showed changes depending on the market. Theft is mentioned as the main reason why many consumers take their time before deciding to buy a smartphone with Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria having the highest number of worried people. In Uganda, Tanzania and Angola, consumers compare each product’s features with its price and are very considerate about the design as well. Significantly, in Zambia and Ghana consumers no longer base their purchases on brand awareness alone and that trend is seen in main smartphone markets as well mainly Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa where a lot of consumers shunned the famous names like HTC, Samsung, LG, BlackBerry, and bought smartphones from new brands like Tecno, Huawei and ZTE.

It is clear in the report that more consumers bought lower-priced smartphones that addressed their requirements, including price, performance and design with Chinese and other Asian brands accounting for more than 80% market share. By the second half of 2014, there will be a lot more smartphones and tablets at affordable prices coming on to the market according to the report. More than 40 brands were represented in the report, HTC, Samsung, Nokia, i-mobile, Sony, and iPhone among others. The good news is that sub Saharan Africa 4G customers will experience better data services, including video, movie and content downloads, and new applications as the roll out is expected to help offload 3G data traffic and improve performance in congested areas like cities and other urban areas where drop call rates are a menace. Chinese company Huawei by the second half of this year plans to bring its smartphones into the Sub Saharan market at a much cheaper rate and insider recently claimed company would increase its marketing budget.  An analyst familiar with the company recently told me that Huawei plan is to put more focus on offering smartphones and enterprise solutions in Africa. Plan is that affordable Huawei smartphones will support both 3G and 4G and they will be available in the third quarter of the year.

Despite the Chinese brands dominance in the market, Taiwanese company HTC is also becoming more aggressive in Africa’s smartphone market where it aims to be among the top three player in the next eighteen months, targeting a double-digit share and growth rate this year. There is no doubt African smartphone market was growing very quickly and am not surprised that it is in all major manufacturers strategic markets target. The smartphone market in Africa is competitive and there are huge opportunities, especially in the mid-tier market, where prices ranges between $100 – $250 and in the high-tier market, where prices are more than $250.The readiness of the mobile broadband network and mobile devices are also the key drivers for the growth of mobile Internet usage in sub Saharan Africa. The mobile-device boom has also created challenges and opportunities in equal measure for businesses’ digital marketing. Mobile shopping is a huge opportunity in markets like Kenya where a leading supermarket brand Uchumi has partnered with Safaricom, a mobile operator to pilot mobile money payment system at the retailer’s outlets because mobile devices are Kenyan’s purchasing partners.

Contador Harrison