East African PC sector 'inconsequential' compared to mature markets


Computer vendors and channel suppliers targeting the East African region from the Middle East are addressing a market worth barely $200m a year and where mobile systems have only had a limited impact on the PC sector.

PC shipments in Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda grew 24% to just 262,000 units last year, representing a market worth $210m according to research house IDC. Although shipments are expected to double to more than 500,000 units within the next three years, IDC brands the East African PC sector as "completely inconsequential" compared to the world's developed markets.

Desktops continue to be the dominant form factor in the East African market, accounting for an overwhelming 80% of PC purchases and two thirds of revenue. IDC predicts market size to double, but says East Africa PC market is currently still in early adoption phase Notebook consumption remains lower, although growing adoption in the enterprise segment is starting to make a dent in desk-based share.

Despite its modest size, the leading global PC manufacturers - many of which continue to serve the East African geography from the Middle East - appear to be undeterred. HP, Dell, Acer, Lenovo and Toshiba occupy the top five positions, and are collectively responsible for almost half of all PC shipments.

Joyce Nyamu, research analyst at IDC East Africa, projects that government-sponsored projects in the region will boost internet usage and drive demand for ICT products, but concedes that the market still has a long way to go before volumes are on a par with other territories in the region.

"The East African market is still in the early phases of IT adoption," she explained. "Although the region is expected to exhibit high growth rates over the coming years, most markets will remain small compared to the developing markets of the EMEA region, and completely inconsequential compared to the mature markets of Western Europe, North America and Japan."

Meanwhile, IDC has also confirmed that the overall Middle East and Africa PC market expanded 18% last year, and predicts further growth of 20% in 2008.