The Middle East and Africa (MEA) handset market grew to its largest size in ten quarters in Q2 2014, expanding 27% year on year to total 64 million units. The latest insights from global advisory and consulting services firm International Data Corporation (IDC) show that the majority of this growth was seen in the smartphone category, with a major shift underway in the composition of the market. Indeed, smartphone share of the overall MEA handset market jumped 13 percentage points year on year to reach 40% in Q2 2014, with that figure reaching as high as 75–80% in some of the region’s more developed countries.
Within Africa, Egypt and South Africa posted the largest year-on-year handset shipment growth, at 37% and 32%, respectively. In the Middle East, that honor was taken by the UAE and Qatar, with respective growth of 27% and 32%. “The growth seen in countries like Egypt is due to ongoing economic and political recovery, while for countries like the UAE and Qatar that are still benefiting from successful bids to host Expo 2020 and FIFA 2022, it is simply the result of increased consumer demand stemming from economic growth and tourism,” says Nabila Popal, research manager with IDC’s Systems and Infrastructure Systems Group.
The remaining MEA countries also posted growth over the same quarter in 2013, despite some — such as Iraq and Syria — experiencing extreme levels of instability. “This universal growth is unique to this technology segment,” continues Popal. “This is because phones are no longer simply a means of communication between people. Indeed, smartphones are becoming a way of expression and a window to the rest of the world, and this aspect is proving particularly important in lesser developed countries that are suffering from unrelenting political turmoil.”