China is making more of Africa’s phones than you think

Nairobi’s central business district (CBD) When Transsion went public on Shanghai’s NASDAQ-style stock exchange Sept. 30 topping a $6.5 billion market cap, the industry was a-buzz around the little-known manufacturer from Shenzhen, China whose brands, Tecno and Infinix have grown rapidly to make it Africa’s No.1 maker of cellphones in just a few short years.

But what has received much less notice is the host of other Chinese-owned cell phone makers gaining traction in the African mobile phone market.

In coming years, we can expect to see more of these firms make major moves in the African mobile phone market. Transsion’s listing prospectus listed nine other phone brands gaining traction in the African mobile phone market, five of those, with a combined 18.7% market share, also had Chinese roots and were not just OEM partners but brand owners and licensees. Chinese companies dominate Africa’s phone market

Transsion (China) “Tecno” et al 49% 45.12% 33.73% Samsung (South Korea) 10.27% 12.85% 16.29% HMD (Finland) “Nokia” 6.78% 3.96% 0.00% Huawei (China) 4.05% 2.69% 4.02% Condor (Algeria) 2.42% 2.61% 2.11% Mobicel (South Africa) 2.25% 1.70% 1.73% X-Tigi (China) 1.65% 1.23% 2.00% Starlight (Algeria/China) 0.93% 0.00% 0.00% Source: IDC Brand awareness

Over the past year, Oppo and Vivo phones have made aggressive inroads into the African market. Walk through Nairobi’s central business district on any given day and both companies’ green and blue signs can be seen from down the block, balloon towers raised and music blasting from each stand. Oppo gadgets are marketed heavily with one vendor claiming, “Oppo is currently selling better than any other brands”.

If a customer isn’t keen on Oppo, they are quickly directed to the new Vivo 17. But, when asked for the distinguishing features between the two brands there was little to be said.

The phones tote different names, but they essentially come from the same place and DNA. Vivo and Oppo are sub-brands of BKK Electronics Company , a private, multinational tech hardware company based in Shenzhen, China. Downtown Nairobi: Chinese-made phones everywhere Nokia, which was one of the early dominant leaders in Africa with its simple feature phones has lost ground here as it has elsewhere over the years. Today the brand has 2.26% market share in Africa and is licensed to Finnish company HMD Global. A major portion of the company’s research and development arm has moved to China.

Then there’s “Alcatel-Lucent”, a Nokia spinoff whose phones are […]

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