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Smartphone shipments in Africa slowed down last year as the mobile device market took a hit from economic turmoil in the region.


In its latest statistical release, the International Data Corporation (IDC) says that the smartphone market in Africa stood at 95.37 million units in 2016.


And while this is an improvement from the previous year’s figures, the 3.4 per cent year-on-year growth is a significant drop from the double-digit growth rates seen in 2014 and 2015.


IDC speculates that this cooling of smartphone growth might be attributable to general economic trends in the region.

“Many African economies struggled throughout 2016, and this had an inevitable knock-on effect on the smartphone market, which had previously experienced a very strong 2015,” said Mr Simon Baker, programme director for IDC’s operations in the Middle East and Africa.


IDC singles out Nigeria where the devaluation of the Naira caused a “drop in confidence in the distribution channel”.



Feature phones


But while the smartphone segment of the market suffered, feature phones shipments were on a positive trajectory in 2016.


The number of feature phones shipped to Africa grew 16.1 per cent to 119.97 million.


Bolstered by positive performance in the feature phone segment, the total number of mobile phones shipped in the continent grew 10.1 per cent to 215.33 million.


Samsung continued to be the market leader on the continent with strong competition arising from Transsion, the Chinese vendor of the Infinix and Tecno brands.


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