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Africa’s smartphone market makes gains

Inside Telecom Staff



Smartphone market

U.S.–China tensions accompanied by market saturation are placing the global smartphone market under immense stress. The latest research from International Data Corporations has shown that the African smartphone market saw shipments increase 4.0% quarter upon quarter in Q3 last year to total 22.6 million units. The firm’s latest research indicates Africa’s complete mobile phone sales reached 55.8 million units in Q3 2019, with feature phones making up for 59.4% of this total, in comparison to smartphones at 40.6%.

This growth, was prompted by the strong performance of the three most sizeable markets on the continent: Nigeria, South Africa, and Egypt. This was mostly driven by the massive influx of affordable models that have recently been launched in these markets. The stability of the Nigerian naira (NGN) and appreciation of the Egyptian Pound (EGP) has also helped create an increase in demand.

Transsion brands (Tecno, Infinix, and Itel) continued to lead the feature phone space in Q3 2019, with a combined unit share of 64.0%. Nokia was next with a 1.0% share.

In the smartphone space, Transsion (36.2%), Samsung (23.9%), and Huawei (11.4%) led the way in unit terms; however, in terms of value, Samsung led the way with a 33.2% share, followed by Transsion (22.4%) and Huawei (15.6%).

Samsung shook the market up this year with the launch of its new A series of devices, which combine excellent value for money with Samsung’s well-established brand equity,” says Taher Abdel-Hameed, a senior research analyst at IDC. “This move spurred a significant increase in Samsung’s shipments across most African countries.

Samsung recorded remarkable year-on-year growth of 61.4% in the low-end price band ($100-$200) in Q3 2019, and its move into this space has pushed Chinese brands to offer more affordable devices. Local African brands have traditionally focused on filling in for the absence of global brands in the entry-level smartphone segment, so these latest developments have put them in a difficult situation, causing their volumes to decline 33.6% year on year in Q3 2019.”

The smartphone market in Africa is changing from a price perspective too, with models costing between $100-200 seeing an increase in demand in the last year. Such an increase was mainly driven by the launch of new Samsung and Transsion models. The models below $100 had been on the decline in recent quarters and had lost share to low-end price band as device portfolios move towards bigger screen sizes and 4G capabilities.

2019 will prove to have been a pivotal year for the African smartphone market,” says Ramazan Yavuz, a research manager at IDC. “4G devices are now dominating the market like never before, accounting for 73.0% of shipments. Screen sizes are also getting larger, with devices equipped with 6-inch screens and above now accounting for 41.7% of shipments, up from just 9.0% a year ago.”

IDC predicts that Africa’s total mobile phone market to reach around 218.2 million units for 2019 and Q1 of 2020 as a whole. Smartphone shipments will equal 91.0 million units for the year, up 3.2% on 2018, and the introduction of more affordable devices will motivate progress in this space over the coming years.


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Beeline Telecom to become 4th provider in Zambia

Inside Telecom Staff



Beeline Telecom

Beeline Telecom has become Zambia’s fourth provider earlier this week after receiving its license to commence mobile phone operations from the country’s ICT regulator ZICTA.

Beeline, a Zambian wholly owned company, has been granted a period of 6 months to kick start its operations, unless determined by the authority, or the license will be revoked. Zambia enjoys a diverse telco presence with South African MTN and Indian Airtel being the heavy hitter names within the market.

The newly welcomed company stands alongside Zamtel as local providers within the country. According to a statement by Beeline, the local company has been offered the international network and national services licenses with associated resources and becomes the fourth mobile network services provider in the country.

“This was in line with its regulatory mandate under the ICT ACT No. 15 of 2009, which includes the promotion of competition in the ICT sector. In September 2020, the Authority invited, through the Request for Proposals, applications for a Network License under the International Market Segment and a Service License under the National Market Segment with associated resources,” Patrick Mutimushi, Director General of ZICTA, said in a statement.

Mutimushi added that following a thorough evaluation process, and Beeline having met the minimum criteria, the Authority resolved to award the licenses in question to Beeline Telecoms Limited.

On September 4, 2018, ZICTA, under the guidance of the parent ministry – Ministry of Transport and Communications, issued a Network License under the International Market Segment and a Service License under the National Market Segment with associated resources to UZI Zambia.

“Unfortunately, UZI Zambia failed to commence operations by March 3, 2019, the final deadline issued by the Authority. This was notwithstanding two earlier deadline extensions – the first being November 30, 2019 and the second on May 30, 2020. The above scenario left the Authority with no choice but to cancel the licenses issued to UZ! Zambia,” the director general noted.

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Jio takes sector by storm as strongest telecom brand, Verizon most valuable

Karim Hussami



strongest telecom brand

For the second year in a row Verizon has claimed the title of the world’s most valuable telecoms brand following an 8 percent increase in brand value to US$68.9 billion.

This brand value growth has not only propelled it back into the top 10 most valuable brands globally in the Brand Finance Global 500 2021 ranking, but has meant the brand has continued to widen the lead over second placed AT&T (brand value down 13 percent to US$51.4 billion). 15 further US brands feature in the Brand Finance Telecoms 150 2021 ranking, with a combined brand value of US$182.8 billion.

“Two years since the beginning of Verizon’s business transformation program, Verizon 2.0 – focusing on the transformation of the network, the go-to-market, the brand, and the culture of the business – the brand continues to make leaps and bounds across the industry,” Brand Finance said.

Reliance Jio strongest telecom brand

Despite only being founded in 2016, India’s Reliance Jio was Brand Finance’s headline performer in its new ranking, because not only was it the fastest growing in terms of brand value, it also topped the charts based on brand strength.

Marketing investment, customer perception, staff satisfaction, and corporate reputation, are some of the metrics used by Brand Finance to measure a company’s brand strength.

Brand Finance highlighted Jio’s rapid rise to become India’s biggest and strongest telecom brand– and the third largest in the world – because it is affordable, often free, with plans that changed the way Indians use the Internet to explain its brand strength.

No weakness

“The dominance of the brand across the nation is evident from the results from Brand Finance’s original market research. Jio scores highest in all metrics – consideration conversion, reputation, recommendation, word of mouth, innovation, customer service and value for money – compared to its telecom competitors in India,” the analyst firm noted.

“The brand has no major weaknesses within the sector, and unlike other telecoms brands globally, Jio has shown that it has broken the mold and enjoys genuine affection from consumers,” they noted.

In addition, Jio struck as the largest in the country with almost 400 million subscribers, by maintaining affordable plans, offering 4G to millions of users for free, simultaneously transforming how Indians consume the Internet – known as the ‘Jio effect’.

Based on Brand Finance’s calculations, which use the BSI score and revenue metrics amongst other things, Jio increased its brand value by 50 percent from last year’s ranking to US$4.8 billion, making it the fastest growing in the telecoms space.

However, being amongst the biggest in the world did not help China’s three telecom giants, all of which saw substantial declines in the value of their brands.

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STC, Etisalat most valuable telecom brands in MEA, report says

Inside Telecom Staff



STC, Etisalat most valuable telecom brands in MEA, report says

UAE’s Etisalat and Saudi Arabia’s Saudi Telecom (STC) have topped the list of the most valuable telecom brands in the MEA region, just weeks following STC’s highest-ever annual revenue for the past decade.

According to Brand Finance Telecoms 150 2021 report, STC’s brand value increased 14 percent to $9.2 billion, jumping five places to 13th on the report’s annual listings. The report adds that STC has recently doubled the capacity of its network, without compromising on customer service – something the brand prides itself on.

The Saudi company is playing a crucial part in KSA’s Vision 2030 – a strategic framework to diversity the economy away from oil – through establishing a digital hub for the whole region, to accommodate future growth in the IT sector, Brand Finance highlighted.

“STC’s brand has evolved and grown following its successful Masterbrand refresh and extension into Kuwait and Bahrain at the beginning of last year. The company continues to execute its DARE strategy successfully and has strengthened its positioning as a company that enables digital life. Its commitment to digital transformation has been shown with STC pay, recognized as the first tech unicorn in Saudi Arabia,” David Haigh, CEO, Brand Finance commented in a statement.

Brand Finance evaluates the relative strength of brands, based on factors such as marketing investment, customer perceptions, staff satisfaction, and corporate reputation. Alongside revenue forecasts, brand strength is a crucial driver of brand value.

In 2020, total revenues reached $15.72 billion, an increase of 8.43 percent; as a result, operating profit reached $3.41 billion, an increase of 2.69 percent.

According to the Kingdom’s Communications and Information Technology Commission, STC had the highest mobile download speed in Saudi Arabia, with a 5G network that reaches a speed of 342.35 megabytes per second earlier this month.

STC has deployed its 5G network in more than 47 cities across the Kingdom, with plans to increase this figure to 71 in the next phase of its expansion.

In parallel, Etisalat has been crowned the MEA’s strongest telecoms brand, with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 87.4 out of 100 and a corresponding AAA brand strength rating – the only brand in the region to achieve this rating.

The UAE-based company has recently broken the $11 billion mark as it turns its sights on the global stage.

Etisalat Group, the most valuable telecoms portfolio in the region which has recently broken the $11 billion mark, is turning its sights on transforming into a truly global player.

“When COVID struck in 2020, Etisalat led from the front ensuring business continuity, robust e-governance, enablement of smart cities and remote learning, to help drive the digital future of the UAE. Staying relevant and enabling the nation with the fastest network on the planet, Etisalat has earned its place as the region’s Strongest Brand, ready to deliver on its ethos of Together Matters as the UAE welcomes the world at Expo 2021,” Haigh noted.

On a global basis, Verizon claimed the top spot for the second year in a row, increasing valuation percent to $68.9 billion.

Out of the seven Middle Eastern brands, Etisalat, Mobily, Ooredoo and STC, have climbed the ranks this year. Mobily is the fastest growing telco brand in the region with a 17 percent brand value growth, jumping 10 places in the ranking to 75th position.

“Mobily (brand value US$1.3 billion), has strengthened its business and brand over the last three years by positioning the brand as the everyday hero. It has attained the highest Brand Strength Index score in its history at 75.4 out of 100 (brand strength rating AA+) and is in a strong position to capture the next wave of growth by seizing opportunities in the digital economy,” the report pointed out.

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