China / Business

Smartphones storm Kenya

By Ma Si in Beijing, and Edith Mutethya in Nairobi (China Daily Africa) Updated: 2017-02-19 15:24

Wilston Shivachi is an enthusiastic user of smartphones. Like many people, the logistics consultant could not get through the day without his handset. He relies on the device to shoot selfies, stream videos on YouTube and check emails when he is out of the office.

The only thing that may surprise you is that he is in Kenya, an East African country. Despite the relatively low economic development of the region, the African market is, in fact, offering many opportunities for smartphone vendors, as consumers are increasingly desirous of affordable mobile devices.

Africa's population, the fastest-growing and youngest in the world, is concentrated in urban areas. This new generation of African consumers resembles their urban counterparts anywhere in the world: they are both brand- and quality-conscious, they seek out the latest trends but are also budget-conscious, according to a report by McKinsey & Co.

The consultancy predicted that in the next few years, 40 percent of the growth in spending power in Africa will be driven by households with an average income of more than $20,000 a year. The trend is well reflected in local consumers' desire for affordable gadgets. Africa's smartphone users overlap significantly with its rising consumer class.

Irene Njeri, the marketing and sales manager of the Kenyan football website Futtaa, bought her first Tecno smartphone in 2013 because the handset can offers many functions for a price lower than others on the market.

"Most of my friends use Tecno phones in both low- and high-end segments," she said.

Njeri relies on her smartphone to perform her office work, such as checking and sending emails, accessing social media sites and making calls.

According to a survey by Nigerian online shopping site Jumia Kenya, Kenyans, like consumers in more developed countries, are growing increasingly savvy and looking to get the best features for their money.

The survey, which was carried out in 2015 and checked the growth of the smartphone market in Kenya, found that memory, battery life and the quality of the handset's camera are the top three areas of concern for most Kenyan consumers when buying smartphones.

Only 44 percent of respondents said the brand was an important consideration in buying a phone.

As smartphones give more African consumers access to the internet, they are migrating to e-commerce sites to buy more affordable gadgets.

A survey released by Kenyan research firm e-Ensures in January showed that mobile phones emerged as the most popular items bought online, accounting for 58 percent of all orders. By comparison, fashion came a distant second at 18 percent.

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