Smartphone imports from China surge by 71pc to 2.3 million

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Kenya's imports of smartphones from China surged 71.5 percent last year to breach the two-million mark, underlining rising demand for the handsets amid the expansion of high-end telecoms technologies including 5G.

Data from Chinese authorities shows Kenyan firms imported 2,257,325 smartphones from China in 2023.

This is a sharp growth from the 1,316,425 smartphones that Nairobi imported from Beijing in the previous year.

The higher quantity pushed the value of the smartphones to $152.168 million (Sh20.923 billion), up from $100.992 million (Sh13.886 billion).

This means that the average unit cost of each smartphone declined to Sh9,269 last year compared to a higher unit price of Sh10,548.58 in 2022, indicating a decline in the price of the handsets or increased importation of cheaper units.

China is the largest manufacturer of smartphones in the world. Data from various global outlets shows that the country accounted for 67 percent of the global smartphone manufacturing in 2021.

China is Kenya’s largest source of imports and is the main supplier of cheap electronics such as smartphones, television sets, radio sets, headphones, chargers, and earphones among others to Kenya.

Smartphones have become a critical tool in the daily lives of individuals across the globe especially due to their ability to connect to the internet as well as take high-quality pictures and videos.

Some of the most commonly used smartphone brands in Kenya include Samsung, Tecno, Xiaomi, Oppo, Realme, Itel and iPhone.

The sharp jump in imports last year indicates that demand for the gadgets continues to rise even as Kenya’s population grows.

Further, as prices of smartphones continue to drop, individuals are increasingly owning more than one mobile phone to cater for their various needs. According to the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), there were some 33,613,828 smartphones in Kenya by December 2023.

There were a further 31,840,598 feature phones in use across the country during the period.

Nearly all the mobile phones that are being used in Kenya are imported.

However, the East Africa Device Assembly Kenya Limited (Eadak) last year commenced assembly of cheap phones locally which President William Ruto said will help create jobs.

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