A key characteristic of the African mobile communications market is the popularity of certain vendors, some of which are not sold anywhere else in the world. Chinese manufacturer Transsion consistently ships more phones to Africa than any other vendor, accounting for 36.7 percent of all phones shipped during the first quarter of 2020. Chinese smartphone manufacturers have a strong hold in the marketplace, with Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi also appearing among the top five most popular vendors. Smartphones at the low to ultra-low end of the price spectrum account for the vast majority of smartphones sold in Africa, with 83 percent of smartphones sold in Africa during the fourth quarter of 2019 having a price tag of less than $200 U.S. dollars. Feature phones account for the majority of mobile phones sold in Africa, with vendors shipping 26.7 million feature phones in the first quarter of 2020, ahead of the 20.1 million smartphones shipped during the same quarter.
The MTN Group is the largest mobile telecommunications provider in the region, operating across borders as well as in the Middle East. In 2019, MTN Nigeria generated 2.75 billion U.S. dollars of revenue, while MTN South Africa generated 2.67 billion U.S. dollars. Other key areas of operation include the SEAGHA nations, WECA nations, Syria, Sudan and other nations in the Middle East and North African region. The MTN group have more subscribers in Nigeria than any other single country, with 64.3 million subscribers, ahead of the 46.85 million Iranian subscribers the company services in a joint venture with Irancell.
Over the coming years, mobile phone users in Africa can also expect to see improvements in speed and reliability brought about by improved transmission technology and infrastructure. In 2019, 59 percent of connections were made over 2G, a figure that is expected to drop to 14 percent by 2025. Over the same period of time, 3G and 4G connections are expected to increase, and three percent of connections could be made using 5G spectrums.