Annual smartphone sales in Africa and the Middle East are expected to grow by a compound annual growth rate of 15% to reach 238 million units by 2020, surpassing 204 million unit sales in North America and 201 million unit sales in Latin America.
This forecast is made in a new report, “Operator Strategies to Increase Smartphone Penetration in Africa,” published by Pyramid Research. It provides in-depth insights on a number of smartphone strategies that African telecommunication operators can use to increase smartphone usage and adoption on their networks.
Following significant network investments by African operators to capitalize on the rising demand for data services, operators are increasingly becoming concerned with increasing the number of smartphone users on their networks. Strategies highlighted within the report will help operators boost mobile data revenues and ensure competitiveness in terms of service innovations in the long-run.
Operators providing device financing schemes is one of the four direct strategies detailed in the report. In a region characterized by low income levels, smartphone prices can be prohibitively expensive. To overcome this, African operators have partnered with banks to address this barrier to purchasing smartphones, such as Tigo Ghana’s partnership with Stanbic Bank to provide financing schemes for the Samsung Galaxy range of devices.
“However, a key limitation is the large unbanked population in Africa,” says Mak Rahnama, Senior Analyst at Pyramid Research. “To overcome this, operators need to consider financing schemes using mobile money.”
Indirect strategies, which focus on increasing mobile data usage to drive smartphone adoption, are also found to be essential given the majority of consumers in African markets purchase their devices from various retail channels (e.g. informal sector, independent retailers) rather than directly from operators.
Rahnama states that “by providing OTT localized content, operators can incentivize consumers to purchase smartphones, and in-turn increase smartphone penetration on their networks”. The report provides an in-depth analysis of three indirect strategies that operators can deploy to boost smartphone usage on their networks.