Smartphones fail to break into DRC market

By Issa Sikiti da Silva, in Kinshasa, DR Congo

Despite harvesting an unprecedented success in other parts of the African continent, smartphones have failed to make any significant impact in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where only 25% of cellphone users have been found to be using the device.

This is one of the critical findings from the latest mobile report published by market research company Target Sarl in the DRC.

Smartphone users in the DRC are mostly men, young people between the age of 12 and 34, pupils and students, and the majority of these users are residents of the Lukunga district, Target Sarl said in its report.

The district of Lukunga, located in the north-west of the capital Kinshasa, is made up of the following areas: Ngaliema, Gombe, Barumbu, Kinshasa, Kintambo and Lingwala, and the country’s wealthiest people are believed to be living in some of these areas.

“It’s all about the purchasing power, which most of our people don’t have. Original smartphones are too expensive for the average Congolese, and it’s just understandable that the report has singled out this district,” technology analyst Jean-Albert Longange said.

An average smartphone costs about US$60 in Kinshasa, while the top device, like the latest IPhone and Samsung, are being sold for about US$1000.

“That’s too much for the majority of the people in the DRC, where the minimum wage is about US$50 monthly,” he said.

Tigo DRC has recently been advertising its new smartphone, which it is selling for US$65 and claims is the country’s less expensive smartphone.

“Why should I buy a smartphone for US$65, whereas I can get four good Chinese web-enabled phones out of that money?” college student Huguette Lokua asked.

At least 1.08 billion people are smartphone users out of the 5 billion mobile users across the globe, according to the 2013 figures compiled by


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