Algeria’s mobile phone market recovered from an extremely turbulent 2017 to post strong growth for the first three months of 2018, according to the latest figures announced today by International Data Corporation (IDC).

The global technology research and consulting firm’s newly released Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker shows that device shipments in the country increased 18.3% quarter on quarter (QoQ) in Q1 2018.

This growth comes after the market suffered three consecutive quarterly declines in 2017, caused by the government’s introduction of a new quota system that constrained the ability of vendors to import devices. Consequently, total shipments fell to 8,2-million units in 2017, down 14,6% on the 9,6-million units shipped in 2016.

“The government’s quota system was introduced in an attempt to offset the country’s economic losses after crude oil prices plummeted in mid-2014,” says Taher Abdel-Hameed, a research analyst for mobile phones at IDC.

“From January 2018, that quota became a total ban on all mobile phone imports, with the exception of semi-knocked-down devices (SKDs) that are to be assembled locally. As a result of this policy, more and more local players have emerged, leading some international brands — such as Samsung and LG — to start assembling their devices in Algeria and others to leave the market completely.”

Condor was the first local giant to enter the mobile phone space, and it has since been followed by IRIS and Stream System. More recently, a new wave of local vendors have started to penetrate the market, including ENIE, Kiowa, Starlight, and Benzo.

IDC’s research shows that in Q1 2018 local brands accounted for combined unit shares of 91.1% in the feature phone space and 83.6% in the smartphone space, up from 58,9% and 45,6%, respectively, in Q1 2017.

The vendor landscape continues to be dominated by Condor, which leads the way in both the feature phone and smartphone categories, garnering 58,2% unit share of the overall Algerian mobile phone market in Q1 2018. IRIS ranked second overall with 13,1% share, displacing Samsung after the Korean vendor was negatively impacted by import restrictions.

“Looking ahead, IDC expects the Algerian mobile phone market to grow 4,3% year on year in 2018,” says Abdel-Hameed. “The market will continue to be dominated by local brands, supported by government regulations aimed at boosting local production.

“Although some international models, such as Apple’s iPhone, will inevitably find their way into the market through grey channels, they are not expected to affect the dominance of the local brands or alter the overall vendor landscape.”