A schoolboy walks beneath a cell phone advertising billboard in Johannesburg, South Africa, Sept 3, 2014. [Photo/IC]
With a growing number of Chinese cell phone makers taking giant strides in overseas markets, Africa, with its huge population, is also in its sights.
OPPO, a Chinese producer, has unveiled two smartphones, OPPO N3 and OPPO N5, in Morocco, taking the number of Chinese cell phone makers in Africa above 10.
The first batch of manufactures entering the African market were copy makers based in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong province, China Business News cited Yan Zhanmeng, a senior analyst of IDC China, as saying. With a smartphone boom in 2013, more famous Chinese makers have been tapping into the market, Yan added.
IDC data showed that the market share of Chinese cell phone brands rose to 30 percent in 2014, from 15 percent two years earlier. Huawei, Tecno and Alcatel have entered the top five in the African market, which surged 108 percent last year.
Africa has a population of one billion, accounting for 15 percent of the world population. Most important is that the number of cell phone users has exceed 200 million, even during the 2009 financial crisis, the growth rate hit 14.8 percent.
Nigeria, with the biggest population in Africa, currently has the most cell phone users, accounting for 16 percent of total users on the continent, followed by Egypt and South Africa. In the next five years, the most obvious growth will focused in Central and East Africa, among which growth in Ethiopia, Congo, Eritrea and Madagascar is expected to exceed 100 percent.
The African smartphone market jumped 108 percent in 2014, Yan said, adding that Huawei's shipment ranked No 2, just behind Samsung. Last year, Huawei devices soared more than 300 percent in the Middle East and Africa, followed by Asia and Latin America, 98 percent, and European 68 percent.
Yan said Africa becoming a big market can be attributed to three reasons. First, due to economic factors, the smartphone industry chain is small. Second, Chinese brands make a good impression on African residents. Finally, the market-oriented African economy leaves more room for some makers.
For Chinese smartphone makers, fighting for market share overseas will turn into a protracted war following some price and brand battles.
An industry insider said that in order to prevent smartphone imports from China, some African countries added import terms and a certification threshold. Patent is another issue.
Gionee CEO Lu Weibing said the best solution is OEM cooperation with some local brands. Currently, Gionee, a Shenzhen-based high-tech enterprise focusing on research and development, production and sales of cellular mobile devices, has about 10 OEM partners worldwide, while its market share has reached second in Middle Africa.
"We need to have an open mind to cooperate with local partners. It's a mutual trust and time can prove it," Lu added.