TECNO: China's home grown smartphone manufacturer has quietly taken over the African smartphone market

Written by Remi Osokoya || September 22 2017

China’s Transsion Holdings, one of the major mobile phone manufacturers in the world and second largest smartphone vendor in Africa is known for owning mobile phone brands TECNO, itel and Infinix. It was the first Chinese smartphone manufacturer to explore the African market and have a smartphone plant in Africa.

Today, its mobile phone brands have experienced tremendous success with itel being the second largest handset vendor in India with approximately 8 million sold handsets within only 8 months of its launch. Whilst, Infinix is successfully winning over the Nigerian and Kenya smartphone market through 'Infinix Mobility' which reported that it sold over 4 million devices in Africa within a 16-month period.

Each brand has it uniqueness with Infinix targeting the younger consumers between the ages 18 to 25, itel targeting consumers who want to buy feature phones (non-smartphones) and low-end smartphones and TECNO which offers customers premium smartphones at affordable prices.

Since the launch of TECNO in 2006, TECNO has become Africa’s leading mobile phone maker through a sheer focus on the world's second largest mobile market with 557 million mobile users and also the least penetrated mobile market according to GSM Association, the umbrella body for the mobile industry.

Because of Africa's low mobile penetration, the continent is seen as a good place for new telecom investors to establish their brand especially as consumers in this region are mostly fixated on price and hardware compared to developed countries where software and mobile phone storage capacity are very important to potential customers. It is for these reasons that in 2008, TECNO decided to focus exclusively on Africa. 

To date TECNO has sold over 45 million mobile phones across the continent, dominating Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, Cameroon and Ghana’s market.[1] It is believed that they have at least 25% share of smartphone sales in Africa.[2]

How did they become successful?

TECNO have tailored their mobile phones to their customers’ needs and requirements. Initially aiming just to sell low-cost mobile devices that will assist with the communication problems in the continent, TECNO paid attention to suggestions from customers on how they could improve their product by adding additional features customers required. For example, in Nigeria customers wanted a mobile phone that had a longer battery life due to the electrical power shortage and in Kenya, customers wanted mobile phones with better picture quality. These requirements were looked and the Camon CX was launched. 

The Camon CX uses a smart image sensor which composes of 16-megapixel sensors in the front camera "which detects light, captures individual images and converts the information into signals before forming the final image, resulting in selfies that are 30% brighter, making it the ultimate selfie phone."[3] In addition to this, a 10-minute charge can last its user a whole day which is highly favourable to Nigerian consumers without reliable electricity. As of date, there have been over 5 million Camon series smartphones sold globally since their introduction in 2015.

In addition to TECNO targeting the different markets in Africa effectively, they have set mobile phones at affordable prices with uncompromised quality, offered its customers the ability to use dual SIM cards which was in high demand in the African market as well as given customers the best after-sales service for Africa[4].

In line with TECNO's mission "to allow users experience more by providing an avenue to enjoy seamless entertainment"[5], TECNO's mobile apps department created Boomplay App, Africa's most downloaded music app which is pre-installed on all TECNO's smart devices launched after March 2015. With the success of this app in Africa it will be interesting to see how TECNO can incorporate other apps especially mobile payment platforms into its smart devices.

With the success of M-Pesa, a leading African Mobile payment platform, mobile payments are clearly in the sights of many investors, so it will be interesting to see how TECNO is able to leverage this. TECNO’s Boomplay App, Africa's most downloaded music app, pre-installed on all TECNO smart devices was launched after March 2015. It was created by TECNO's mobile apps department in line with TECNO's mission "to allow users experience more by providing an avenue to enjoy seamless entertainment" With the huge success of this app in Africa, there can be a presumption that a pre-installed mobile payment app on TECNO's smartphone can take off just like Boomplay App.

Given that TECNO is the leading mobile phone maker in Africa with a reliable brand there is a higher chance that its pre-installed apps will not only be used by its phone users but other smartphone users, just like how Boomplay is downloaded currently by non-TECNO smart devices.

Future plans

With plans on expanding to other continents and keeping in line with the trends in the world by not limiting phone designs just for the African market, TECNO is aiming to be recognised globally as the number one headset for developing markets by 2021. This future plan aligns with the current multi-year partnership with Manchester City Football Club as TECNO's official tablet and handset partner, allowing TECNO to connect with fans all over the world by introducing their latest products.


[1] http://www.itnewsafrica.com/2016/09/TECNO-mobile-dominates-african-mobile-scene/

[2] https://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/28/china-is-everywhere-in-africas-rising-technology-industry.html

[3] https://www.forbes.com/sites/mfonobongnsehe/2017/03/29/TECNO-launches-new-selfie-smartphone-for-africa/2/#3a9f22677df6


[5] https://www.360nobs.com/2016/07/comes-boom-player-go-app-everything-music/