Smartphones top target among Tanzanian consumers

February 19, 2015

Forty three per cent of urban consumers believe Tanzania’s status as a digital nation is less advanced than their northern neighboring country of Kenya, while only 22% of Tanzanians are more advanced than their other East African counterparts in Uganda. Sixty-seven per cent of Tanzania’s ‘digital opinion leaders’ believe the country is in danger of being left behind due to government policies on digital. Tanzanians are ‘addicted’ to their smart devices with sixty-nine per cent of smartphone users checking their device as soon as they wake up in the morning while a staggering forty-six per cent say their smartphone or tablet improves their moods, while one in five say it impacts their sleep and that can’t be disputed as Tanzania is among the leading sub Saharan African countries in ‘night Tweeting.’ According to the study, consumers in Mbeya, Tanga, Dodoma, Dar Es-Salaam, Moshi, Arusha and Mwanza say entertainment, TV, films and media sites offer the best digital experiences, while government and utilities sites rank the worst. Tanzanian customers grow within their own digital ecosystem, and to find relevancy in how all three of these devices played a critical role in their daily lives the answer at present researchers found that “smartphone are a must have for many in United Republic of Tanzania”.

Despite the healthy growth of shipments seen in the tablet device market, Tanzania’s consumer survey data has shown that the smartphone is still the ultimate gadget of choice, and was selected as a “primary” gadget even above the Laptops when it came to work and leisure.The obvious fact is that the smartphone may not fare as well as the Personal Computers, Laptops or Notebooks when it comes to productivity tools such as word processing, project management and others for those living in Urban and semi-Urban areas like Shinyanga or Iringa but the rise in importance of email communication has made the smartphone an irreplaceable part of an Tanzanian consumer’s life for “work.”The commoditization of these devices has also made it easier to own one with a smartphone retailing as low as $100 in Kariokor market, the busiest market in East African region.Even with tablets being priced almost on a par with smartphones in Tanzania today, tablets being offered in the market have failed to dominate the lives of Tanzanian consumers, ranging from the device being of shared ownership to the screen size being too big for daily consumption and with main public transport being Mini buses called Daladala, few would want any gadget that alerts would be muggers especially in Ubungo, the transport hub of Tanzania’s commercial capital Dar Es Salaam. There is a preference for Tanzanians, the consumer, to not want to carry too many devices, and this is where the 2-in-1 proposition becomes compelling but not many are interested.

To be frank, the success of these gadgets like smartphones and Tablets uptake is in enhancing Tanzanian’s life based on if a larger ecosystem exists outside their own personal “digital ecosystem”, if connectivity holds up and if a true high-speed network connection can be provided by leading Mobile Network operators Tigo, Vodacom, Zantel and Airtel.A recent study showed that Tanzanian consumers are increasing their understanding of the technology provided to them within all these gadgets and unlike other parts of Africa, the price sensitivity has continued to wane meaning more and more consumers mind about quality and care less about prices. Quarter on quarter of 2014 in Tanzania witnessed between 24 percent on average “first time buyers” across three main devices; Laptops, notebooks, smart phones and tablets, which lends the East Africa’s most populous country to a widening base of “first time users” in the future. The rate of digital consumerisation in Tanzania is not moving as fast as many experts had predicted five years ago as these devices have not impacted the lives of villagers in Singida, farmers in Arumeru, fishermen in Bukoba, traders in Tabata and the likes as much as the stakeholders wanted them to but the future looks bright. Moving forward, Contador Harrison foresees that the emphasis on digitalizing Tanzania is going to play a critical role in how digital uptake continues to occur. Overall, the smartphone will remain first access device for any given Tanzanian consumer introduced to the digital world and will continue to move ahead.

Contador Harrison