Africa’s smartphone market rebounded strongly in the first quarter of 2021 following a difficult year characterized by the coronavirus pandemic, a report from the International Data Corporation (IDC) indicates.

The continent’s smartphone sales rose by 16.8% to 23.4 million units in the first three months of the year compared to a similar period in 2020.

The sharp growth was boosted by strong sales in major smartphone markets like Nigeria and Egypt which experienced high demand for smartphones and increased shipments from phone vendors. But for the first time in decades, South Africa, the continent’ leading smartphone market, did not perform well due to supply shortages and a tough economic environment that affected demand for the products.

IDC data also indicated that feature phone sales jumped by 11.9% to 29.9 million phones in the period under review.

Africa’s smartphone market was dominated by China’s Transsion brands, which manufactures Techno, Infinix and Itel phones, accounting for 44.3% of the market share. Samsung and Oppo came in second and third respectively with a market share of 22.9% and 8.3%.

Transsion brands also held the top position in feature phone sales with a market share of 78.7% while Nokia and Stylo came in second and third position.

Recently there has been a trend of increased sales of low-end phones in Africa and the report shows that the main phone companies, Transsion, Samsung, Xiaomi launched new mobile units with additional features.

In the global market, Samsung topped smartphone sales in Q1 2021, shipping 76.6 million units throughout the world. Apple took second position with 59.5 million shipments across the globe.

IDC projects Africa’s smartphone sales will jump by 5.6% in 2021 as economies recover from the pandemic slump.

“With vaccination programs expected to accelerate and economies slowly regaining health in the second half of the year, consumer demand is expected to pick up, helping the region’s smartphone markets to build on the growth seen in Q1 2021 throughout the remainder of the year,” said Ramazan Yavuz, a senior research manager at IDC.

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