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Tecno goes top in Africa

The brand that first went big in Nigeria is now the best-selling handset on the continent

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Chinese smartphone brand Tecno Mobile overtook Samsung for handset sales in Africa in 2020, becoming the number one smartphone brand on the continent.

Counterpoint Research’s Market Monitor service announced this week that the Transsion Holdings-owned brand’s successful launch of handset models in the affordable segment, and continued market spending, has allowed it to make significant inroads. despite a 6.7% year on year fall in Africa’s smartphone shipments.

The IDC (International Data Corporation) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker had already placed the company first in Africa for Q1 to Q3 last year, giving it an overall 4th global mobile phone ranking. IDC research also shows that Transsion Holdings’ brands Tecno Mobile, itel, and Infinix took a combined unit share of 48.2% in Q4 2020.

According to the Counterpoint data released on Monday, Tecno Mobile was responsible for 18% of the total smartphone shipment to Africa last year. Samsung, which held the top position in Africa in 2019, faced “supply chain disruptions” in the first half of 2020, securing 15% of Africa’s total smartphone shipments for the year.

Tecno Mobile’s sister brand, itel, placed third, with 12%, followed by Huawei, at 8%.

Counterpoint says four in five smartphones shipped in Africa fall below the $200 mark (R2,900), and companies that offer solid but affordable devices tend to perform extremely well. 

“The ASP decreased 15% between 2018 and 2020, and today over 80% of Africa’s smartphone shipments come from the below $200 band,” says Counterpoint analyst Yang Wang. “We can expect further replacement of feature phones by entry-level smartphones, leading to the ASP likely remaining under pressure in the next few years.”

The IDC expects smartphone shipments into Africa to grow 2.9% year on year in 2021.

“The first half of the year is likely to be slower as vendors face component shortages,” says Ramazan Yavuz, a senior research manager at IDC.

“However, a recovery is expected to start from the second half of 2021. With the expansion of (Covid-19) vaccination programmes and a subsequent slowdown in the spread of the Covid-19, markets across the region are expected to return to normal in H2 2021, with retail channels performing better and purchasing power starting to improve.”

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