How Smartphone Acquisition in Sub-Saharan Africa Plays a Major Role in Regional Development


There is a continuous rapid growth of adoption of smartphones in Sub-Saharan Africa. The total number of smartphone acquisition in the region stood at 250 million at the end of 2017. The numbers were equivalent to a third of the total average number of global purchase. The rate of acquisition is expected to double by the end of 2025 to get to two-thirds of the overall acquisition. This will be equivalent to a total that stood at 690 million.

The high growth in the number of smartphone acquisition in the region means that the adoption gap in comparison to the average developing market base will narrow down in the coming years. The increase in the entry-level devices at an affordable fee is the key player in the acquisition of smartphones across the region. This usually comes from brands that focus more on price such as Shenzhen Transsion Holdings from China. Shenzhen Transsion Holdings sells its mobile phones using Techno and other different brand names. Its volume of sales accounts for around a third of the Sub-Saharan Africa total customer base.

Chinese players have traditionally dominated African feature-phone markets. But the players are now active in serving the smartphone customer base. However, Samsung is still the main distributor in that type of market. Adoption of smartphones is helping to support the strong growth of data within the region. For instance, Vodacom reported 65% annual growth in data traffic within its international operations across the region in the Q1 of 2018. MTN also reported an increase of 56% in group data traffic within the same period. This increased the MTN data revenue collection by 27%.

Mobile operators will have a hard task in monetizing the currently ongoing traffic growth such as regulatory steps to minimize out of bundle charges and taking in aggressive measures. There are still high data prices in some markets in the region with low-income levels coming in as an extra challenge. To counterattack that developers are producing less data-intensive services and apps. These are the likes of the recently launched Google Go. This app is in a position to display search results through 40% fewer data compared to the standard app. it does that by the use of compression algorithm.


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Written by Denis Opudo

Am an engineer who's a tech blogger, hit me up on [email protected] and we base our discussion on technology in Africa and the rest of the world.
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