JOHANNESBURG, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Smartphone shipments in South Africa grew 73% year-on-year in the third quarter and were up 44% from the previous three months as major Chinese manufacturers pushed their presence in the continent's most advanced economy, Counterpoint Research said.
Although Chinese manufactures are eyeing Middle East and Africa (MEA) markets more broadly, Counterpoint said South Africa was seen as particularly attractive due to higher income levels and better connectivity infrastructure.
After the latest round of spectrum auctions in 2022, mobile phone operators have pledged to expand both 4G and 5G coverage to more parts of the country, while also enhancing rural, peri-urban and urban networks.
Chinese phone manufacturers such as HONOR, Xiaomi and Transsion are launching multiple products at lower price points to accelerate migration from more basic feature phones, Counterpoint added.
But market expansion in South Africa is also expected to be driven by the high-end segment and trend for premiumisation, with Samsung and Apple likely to benefit the most.
Smartphone shipments reached the highest level since 2021 in the quarter, just before the global economic slowdown started, Counterpoint said.
"South Africa is among the fastest-growing smartphone markets in the MEA region. As the nation's economic situation is recovering, Chinese original equipment manufacturers are aggressively trying to capture demand," Counterpoint's senior research analyst Yang Wang said.
The entry of HONOR to South Africa has stepped up competition in the low- and mid-tier sector with Xiaomi and Samsung, the research firm added.
Still, Samsung led the market during the quarter despite the stiff competition. It was the leading brand across all price segments, with A-series devices continuing to drive volumes, Counterpoint said. (Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)