Over 60pc of Kenyans have smartphones, shows study


A shopper tests a new phone at a shop. Smartphone penetration in Kenya has grown to more than 60 per cent of the population over the past five years. FILE PHOTO | AFP

Smartphone penetration in Kenya has grown to more than 60 per cent of the population over the past five years thanks to the influx of affordable phones.

This is according to a report by Jumia Business Intelligence and GSMA Mobile titled: White Paper 2017: Trends from the Kenyan Smartphone and E-Commerce Industry, released on Wednesday.

The report showed that the exponential growth in smartphone users was due to a drop in average price of gadgets. Chinese brands have created increased competition.

The average price of a smartphone has more than halved from the Sh23,100 in 2013 to Sh9,700 in 2016 with the lowest priced X-Tigi P3 smartphone being sold on Jumia for Sh2,799.

The Chinese phones have the same features as high-end products from South Korea, Germany, Canada, Finland and Europe.

“The Chinese brands dominate and drive the democratisation of smartphones,” said Mr Sam Chappatte, Jumia Kenya managing director.

Mr Chappatte said more than half of Kenyans, 65 per cent, buy smartphones that cost Sh20,000 and below with brand loyalty, price and battery life, being the three major reasons for choosing a particular smartphone brand.

There has been a continued upward trend in smartphone sales from 2014 to 2016 with over 200,000 units sold in 2016 on Jumia. An increase is predicted in 2017.

Mr Chappatte said Chinese mobile telcos had over the past three years taken over the largest slice of the local smartphone market giving traditional brands Samsung, Sony, LG and Apple stiff competition with cheap brands yet boasting high-end cutting-edge functions. Among the many Chinese smartphone brands in Kenya include Infinix, Tecno, Huawei, Injoo, Lenovo, Wiko, Obi, Gionee, Xtouch and Oppo.

Infinix is arguably the most popular brand in Kenya for low- and high-end markets.

It is estimated that three out of every five Kenyans have an Infinix phone due to its price and features such as high resolution camera.

Mr Chappatte, however, said smartphone sales were heavily concentrated in urban areas with 65 per cent of Jumia’s smartphone sales in Nairobi.

Jumia, the largest e-commerce company by market share in the country, is set to launch another Mobile Week campaign from April 24 to 30.

Customers will access up to 50 per cent discount on smartphone brands and accessories.

Huawei, launched in 2010 in Kenya, sells phones ranging from Sh6, 000 to Sh68,100.

Tecno has become a darling of most Kenyans and is up there with Infinix, Phantom and Injoo.

Oppo entered the market in 2015 with phones going for as low as Sh9,800.

Lenovo launched the A2010 October, 2015 for Sh5,000.

In 2016, Jumia Kenya had over 3.4million visits a month, equivalent to 11 per cent of Kenya’s internet users who were browsing or making orders.