Kenyans Imported 2.3 Million Smartphones from China in 2023.. 71% Rise

March 15, 2024

Kenya’s imports of smartphones from China witnessed a remarkable 71.5 percent surge last year, crossing the two-million mark for the first time.

This surge reveals the increasing demand for these essential gadgets amidst the spread of advanced telecom technologies, including 5G.

Official data from China highlights that Kenyan businesses imported a total of 2,257,325 smartphones in 2023, a significant leap from the 1,316,425 units imported from China the previous year. This increase not only highlights the rising demand but also the expanding smartphone market in Kenya.

The total value of smartphone imports reached $152.168 million (Sh20.923 billion) last year, climbing from $100.992 million (Sh13.886 billion) in 2022.

Despite the higher import volume, the average cost per smartphone dipped to Sh9,269 from Sh10,548.58 in 2022. This drop in unit cost suggests a decrease in the price of smartphones or a shift towards importing more affordable models.

China’s dominance in the global smartphone manufacturing sector is well-documented, with the country producing 67 percent of the world’s smartphones in 2021. As Kenya’s primary source of imports, China plays a crucial role in supplying affordable electronics, including smartphones, to the Kenyan market.

In Kenya, the most popular brands are made by Chinese company Transsion, with their catalog made up of Tecno, Infinix and Itel, as well as popular accessories brand Oraimo.

The surge in smartphone imports in 2023 signals a robust demand for these devices, a trend that’s likely to continue with Kenya’s growing population. Furthermore, the trend towards more affordable smartphones is enabling individuals to own multiple devices to meet their diverse needs.

According to the Communications Authority of Kenya, there were 33,613,828 smartphones in Kenya by December 2023, alongside 31,840,598 feature phones.

Despite the government’s attempt to create local manufacturing capacity, nearly all mobile phones in Kenya are imported.

The East Africa Device Assembly Kenya Limited (Eadak) commenced the local assembly of affordable phones last year. This initiative, supported by President William Ruto, is set to enhance job opportunities while catering to the local demand for mobile phones.

However, there has been no word on the uptake.

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