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Young Africans embrace Chinese gadgets, shatter stereotypes

By MA SI in Beijing and EDITH MUTETHYA iin Nairobi, Kenya | China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-09 08:00

Wilston Shivachi is an enthusiastic user of smartphones. Like many people, the logistics consultant could not get through the day without his handset. He relies on the device to shoot selfies, stream videos on YouTube and check emails when he is out of the office.

The only thing that may surprise you is that he is in Kenya, an eastern African country. Contrary to the previous stereotype of a poverty-stricken continent fraught with political turmoil, the African market is, in fact, offering opportunities for smartphone vendors, as consumers are increasingly desirous of affordable mobile devices.

Africa's population, the fastest-growing and youngest in the world, is concentrated in urban areas. These new African consumers resemble their urban counterparts anywhere in the world: they are both brand and quality conscious, they seek out the latest trends but are budget conscious, according to a report by McKinsey & Co.

The consultancy predicted that in the next few years, 40 percent of the growth in spending power in Africa will be driven by households with an average income of more than $20,000 a year.

The trend is well reflected in local consumers' desire for affordable gadgets. Africa's smartphone users overlap significantly with its rising consumer class.

Irene Njeri, the marketing and sales manager of the Kenyan football website Futtaa, bought her first Tecno smartphone in 2013 because the handset can offer many different functions while the price is lower than other products on the market.

"Most of my friends use Tecno phones in both low and high-end segments," she said.

Njeri relies on her smartphone to perform her office work such as checking and sending emails, accessing social media sites and to make calls.

According to a survey by Jumia Kenya, a Nigerian online shopping site, Kenyans, like consumers in developed countries, are increasingly savvy and looking to get the best features for their money.

The survey which was carried out in 2015 checking the growth of smartphone market in Kenya, found that memory, battery life and the quality of the handset's camera are the top three areas that most Kenyan consumers care about when buying smartphones.

Only 44 percent of respondents said that the brand was an important consideration in buying a phone.

Also, as smartphones give more African consumers access to the internet, they are migrating to e-commerce sites to buy more affordable gadgets.

A survey released by Kenyan research firm e-Ensures in January shows that mobile phones emerged as the most popular items bought online, accounting for 58 percent of all orders. In comparison, fashion came a distant second at 18 percent.

Samsung and Tecno phones were the most popular brands with buyers, commanding more than 50 percent of the phone orders online.

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