Recent figures from IDC have shown that the shipment of smartphones in Africa fell 5.2% to 23.1 million units in the second quarter of 2016.
These figures, presented in IDC’s recently published ‘Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker’, indicate that the boom in smartphone sales in Africa is slowing, despite the fact that overall mobile handset shipments were up slightly in Q2 2016, with shipments of basic feature phones rising 31.9% year on year to total 29.8 million units.
South Africa and the North African countries of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia remain the most developed handset markets on the continent. The northern trio showed continuing strong growth in the smartphone space, with Long-Term Evolution (LTE) handsets accounting for three-quarters of smartphones sold in the region. “The launch of 4G is giving a boost to the mobile business in North Africa, and telecom operators have made huge investments in new LTE networks,” says Nabila Popal, research manager for mobile phones at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey. “As a result of these investments, 4G services are now being offered at affordable prices to a growing band of customers.”
In South Africa, the most striking change was the continued growth of the low-price smartphone segment, with devices priced below $100 (retail price less VAT) now accounting for more than two-thirds of the country’s Android sales. This space has evolved after top-end sales became well established in the market courtesy of the country’s substantial postpaid segment, which is a rare feature of the operator environment in Africa.
In Nigeria, the continent’s most populous country and biggest handset market, there was a sharp slowdown in growth in Q2 2016, with total smartphone shipments down 6.8% year on year. Sales of 4G phones in Egypt, Africa’s second-largest mobile phone market, surged in anticipation of the impending launch of LTE networks. Such phones accounted for almost twice as many shipments as 3G devices during the quarter.
However, in the extremely price-conscious markets of Sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa), 3G phones remain the predominant choice. Transsion’s principal brands – Tecno, Infinix, and itel – continue to perform very well in this region, dominating feature phone sales while collectively accounting for the second biggest share of the Sub-Sharan Africa smartphone market behind Samsung.
IDC believes that the smartphone market will continue to grow in Africa, particularly after the current commodities slump eases. However, sales are unlikely to reach the rates seen a year or two ago now that many urban markets are becoming saturated. Overall mobile shipments in Africa will top 200 million units in 2016, equating to year-on-year growth of 7.0%, with smartphones accounting for a marginally higher share of the market than was the case in 2015.
“Outside the cities, network connectivity is often basic, data speeds are much lower, and rural disposable incomes are often very low,” says Simon Baker, senior program manager for mobile phones at IDC CEMA. “As a result, feature phone sales are proving to be resilient across Africa, and this will continue to be the case going forward. Despite downturns in many economies, Africa retains significant long-term growth potential when compared with other developing regions, particularly as smartphone penetration across the continent remains relatively low.”
Data journalism takes top prize in revamped awards
The entries to the 2018 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards were extraordinarily varied and of an excellent standard, with new categories introduced which are based on content as opposed to platforms. This year, the judges decided that two entries were equally worthy of the coveted Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award.
The first co-winning entry, in the new Data Journalism category, is a set of stories by Alastair Otter and Laura Grant of Media Hack which showed how Data Journalism is shaping the future. The second co-winning entrant is Bongani Fuzile of the Daily Dispatch for his articles in the investigative category on how migrant workers were being ripped off by pension deductions (full citations below).
Convenor of the judging panel Ryland Fisher says: “This year we modernised the 12 categories that journalists could enter their work in and the change was embraced by entrants. In a turbulent time for media, the 2018 entries once again proved that there are excellent South African journalists delivering praiseworthy work, and we commend them for finding new and innovative ways to cover the news.”
Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Officer for Corporate Affairs at the Vodacom Group, says: “Vodacom is proud of its 17-year association with these prestigious awards, which make an important contribution to our society through the recognition of journalistic excellence. I’d like to congratulate all of tonight’s winners and, as always, I’d like to pay tribute to our hardworking judges. Ryland Fisher, Mathatha Tsedu, Arthur Goldstuck, Collin Nxumalo, Elna Rossouw, Patricia McCracken, Megan Rusi, Mary Papayya, Albe Grobbelaar and Obed Zilwa: thank you for making these awards a continued success.”
Veteran journalist and media stalwart Ms Amina Frense is the winner of the 2018 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Lifetime Achiever Award. She has spent decades in mainstream media both locally and internationally. She is a former Managing Editor: News and Current Affairs at the SA Broadcasting Corporation. She has worked in many countries abroad as a producer and a foreign correspondent, has written two books and is also a founding member of SANEF where she still serves as a council member (full citation below).
The overall winners share the R100 000 main prize. National winners in the various categories are as follows, with each winner taking home R10 000:
The entries in this category were of an exceptionally high standard. One entrant stood out and became the unanimous winner. This journalist showed an exceptional skill for story-telling and for finding unexpected angles and unknown facts. For his stories about Musangwe’s fight for recognition, Age cheating in SA football, and Hansie Cronje revisited, the winner is Ronald Masinda, and the team of Gift Kganyago, Nceba Ntlanganiso and Charles Lombard from eSAT TV.
Cons exploit Telegram ICO
Kaspersky Lab researchers have uncovered dozens of highly convincing fake websites claiming to be investment sites for an initial coin offering (ICO) by the Telegram messaging service. Many of these websites appear to belong to the same group. In one case alone, tens of thousands of US dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency were stolen from victims believing they were investing in ‘Grams’, Telegram’s rumoured new currency. Telegram has not officially confirmed an ICO and has warned people about fraudulent investor sites.
In late 2017, stories started to circulate that the Telegram messaging service was launching an initial coin offering (ICO) to finance a blockchain platform based on its TON (Telegram Open Network) technology. Unverified technical documentation was posted online, but there appears to have been no confirmation from Telegram itself. The resulting confusion seems to have allowed fraudsters to capitalise on investor interest by creating fake sites and stealing vast sums of money.
Kaspersky Lab researchers have discovered dozens of such sites, possibly belonging to the same group, claiming to sell tokens for ‘Grams’ and inviting investors to pay with cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, lice litecoin, dash and Bitcoin dash. A record of transactions on one site revealed that the scammers were able to steal at least $35,000 US dollars’ worth of Ethereum from investors.
The researchers found that some of the websites were so convincing that even after Telegram and others began to issue warnings, they were still able to recruit potential investors. Most use a secure connection, require registration and generate a unique online wallet for each new victim, making it harder to track the money.
Judging by the content of the fake websites, it appears they may have common ownership. For example, several have the exactly the same ‘Our Team’ section.
“ICOs are a fairly risky investment and many people don’t yet fully understand how they work, so it is not surprising that high quality fake websites, with seemingly reassuring features such as a secure connection and registration are successful at luring people in. People wishing to invest in an ICO would do well to check with the company behind it and make sure they know exactly who they are giving their money to, or they may never see it again,” said Nadezhda Demidova, Lead Web-Content Analyst, Kaspersky Lab.
Kaspersky Lab offers the following advice for users considering investing in an ICO:
- Check for warning signs: for example, some of the fake Telegram ICO websites had the same wrong image next to the name of Telegram’s Chief Product Officer.
- Do your homework: always check with the brand’s official site to verify the legitimacy of the investment site and, if necessary contact the company’s ICO teams before investing any money or currency.
- Use reliable security solutions such as Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Internet Security for Android, which will warn you if you try to visit fake internet pages.