SA’s personal computing device market takes a knock

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In the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, South Africa experienced the biggest decline in shipments of personal computing devices (PCD) year-on-year during the first quarter of 2020, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC).

The global technology research and consulting firm says the PCD market in the MEA region plummeted 10.2% year-on-year due to the COVID-19 pandemic in that period.

Fouad Charakla, IDC senior research manager for client devices in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa, says: "With pre-existing economic challenges such as low business confidence and high unemployment levels, the situation worsened as the South African rand weakened against the US dollar during the quarter, making imports of all products – including personal computing devices – more expensive."

This week, the rand has strengthened to below the R17 to the dollar mark – the strongest it has been in 11 weeks.

The firm's latest quarterly PCD tracker shows that a total of 4.4 million units were shipped across the region in Q1 2020, which is the lowest volume since Q3 2009.

According to IDC, the primary reason for this decline was the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, which led to the closure of several factories in China and caused a shortage of supply across the region.

Charakla comments: "The lockdown measures that were subsequently implemented across the region led to a significant slowdown in both business activity and end-user demand. As a result, almost all countries in the region experienced a decline in PCD shipments year-on-year.”

The COVID-19 virus, which originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December, has gripped nations across the globe, claiming the lives of 393 548, with a current infection rate of over 6.7 million.

On the flip side, Charakla says: “Turkey saw an increase in PCD shipments year-on-year, as the market recovered from the slowdown experienced in the corresponding quarter of 2019. At the same time, a large-scale delivery of tablets into Egypt's education sector also helped to cushion the decline in shipments for the overall region."

The future of the PCD market remains uncertain as a lot depends on how quickly the spread of the COVID-19 virus can be controlled, says Charakla.

"However, given the prevailing conditions, IDC expects PCD shipments for Q2 2020 and the rest of the year to be further impacted by the pandemic-induced slowdown, with the year 2020 expected to suffer a considerable decline in shipments.”

Additionally, Charakla believes: “Oil prices, which have also suffered tremendously, will significantly impact the GDP of many countries in the region, especially the Gulf. This will inevitably lead to tighter spending on government-led initiatives. However, the easing of lockdown regulations now taking place in many parts of the region should prevent any further alarmingly sharp declines at the regional level."

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