Samsung Sees Smartphones Leading Africa Growth

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(Reuters) - Samsung Electronics Co aims to double its share of the sub-Saharan smartphone market to 20 percent by next year, as it focuses on affordable handsets, the head of its Africa business said on Thursday.

The Korean maker of televisions and white goods is aggressively courting African consumers with its Built for Africa line, which features energy-saving electrical appliances purpose built to withstand high temperatures and erratic power supply.

But the company sees some of its biggest opportunities on the continent from rising demand for cheaper smartphones, Kwang Kee Park, Samsung's president and chief operating officer for Africa, told Reuters in an interview.

We intend to grow the smartphone market up to 20 percent for the next one year's time with the Galaxy Pocket, he said, referring to a stripped-down version of its Galaxy smartphone.

Africa is the fastest growing mobile market in the world and will be home to 738 million handsets by the end of this year, according to a survey by industry body GSMA.

The rise of smartphones has also given millions of African internet access for the first time.

Samsung estimates the total African market for handset devices shipped was around 97 million, with smartphone penetration currently around 6 to 8 percent. Samsung's share of the smartphone market in Africa stands at about 10 percent.

Samsung, which had assembly plants in South Africa, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Senegal, Mali and north Sudan, is aiming reach the $3 billion sales mark this year, up $1 billion on last year.

The company has said it aims to boost its revenue from Africa to $10 billion by 2015.

But Park said that would depend on Samsung being able to develop more locally relevant products at cheaper prices.

Every year we can come up with another $1 billion in business, he said.

But it really depends on how we develop more locally relevant products and make the products more affordable.

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