by Christine Lagat
NAIROBI, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Market for personal computers (PC) across East Africa has experienced slight volatility occasioned by political uncertainties, inflationary pressures and shifting consumer tastes, said a report released by International Data Corporation (IDC) on Wednesday.
According to the IDC report, the PC market in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia declined by 8.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016 while shipments for the products fell to 113,303 units in the same period.
"East Africa's biggest PC market, Kenya, continues to be hampered by political uncertainty in the buildup of August elections while introduction of monetary policy changes has tightened access to credit," said Andrew Kirui, an analyst with IDC East Africa
He noted that unregulated imports and incoherent tax regimes were hurting growth of the PC market in a region whose expanding middle class bracket presents new opportunities for retailers in electronic gadgets.
The region is also under mounting pressure from influx of gray imports from the Gulf Region, which often evade value added tax (VAT), hence making them a cheaper alternative to locally manufactured ones, according to Kirui.
Data compiled by IDC indicate that commercial shipment of PCs in East Africa fell by 9.1 percent in fourth quarter of 2016 due to reduced investment by small and medium sized enterprises.
Likewise, the demand for PCs in the region fell by 7.5 percent in the same period due to cut-throat competition from gray imports.
The IDC report shows that Dell overtook HP Inc in the last quarter of 2016 to become leading supplier of PCs in the East African region.
HP Inc saw its shares fall to 22.3 percent while Lenovo remained in third position with 19.6 a percent market share, said the report.
Kenya experienced a rapid growth of the tablets market despite slump in demand for personal computers.
The IDC analysis revealed a 230.5-percent growth of tablets market in Kenya in the last quarter of 2016, thanks to record purchases from the government to implement its flagship digital literacy program in primary schools.
The IDC analyst also pointed to a positive outlook of PC market in Ethiopia thanks to higher consumer purchasing power linked to double-digit economic growth.
Overall, the IDC report painted a bright future for the PC market in East Africa if countries tackle regulatory bottlenecks that hamper its growth.
"Looking ahead, we expect the East Africa PC market to see marginal growth in 2017, with a year on year increase in shipments of 2.0 percent forecast for the year as a whole," said IDC.