The Middle East and Africa (MEA) tablet market bucked the global trend to record 77,3% year-on-year growth in shipments during the first quarter of 2014, according to the latest results from International Data Corporation (IDC).

Shipments reached a total of 4-million units in Q1 2014, with much of the growth driven by the strong performance of the consumer segment, which was spurred by the numerous IT festivals and vendor-led promotions that took place throughout the region during the quarter.

“Most other regions around the world experienced a year-on-year slowdown in growth during Q1 2014, or even an overall decline,” says Adriana Rangel, research director at IDC. “But the MEA tablet market continues to expand tremendously, a trend that can primarily be attributed to the additional focus that vendors have placed on this region due to numerous country markets not reaching their full potential, particularly in Africa.”

Samsung was particularly active on the marketing front, launching numerous new models that helped it retain top spot in the market with a total volume of 974 600 units for the quarter.

Apple held on to second position with 751 934 units, while General Mobile was a new entrant at position three, shipping 352 245 units for the quarter thanks to a 350 000-unit order it secured as part of the Fatih education project in Turkey.

Lenovo and Asus rounded out the top five vendors in Q1 2014, shipping 266 049 units and 189 895 units, respectively.

Looking ahead, Turkey’s Fatih project will continue to help shape the overall MEA tablet market, with another phase set to take hold in Q2 and Q3 of 2014. Similarly, a number of education deals are in the pipeline in Egypt for both public and private schools.

As a result of all these initiatives and other smaller corporate deals involving small and medium-sized businesses, the commercial segment is expected to account for 14% of the overall market’s volume in 2014 compared to just 9% in 2013.

Another consequence of the commercial segment’s improving performance will be an increase in uptake of larger tablet devices.

“In terms of screen sizes, 7-inch and 8-inch tablets will continue to dominate the market throughout 2014,” says Victoria Mendes, a research analyst at IDC. “However, we expect to see a good uptake of 10-inch and 11-inch tablets during the year as a number of the large education initiatives currently underway in the region require the use of these larger devices.”