On the heels of its entry into the Nigerian market earlier this month, a Lenovo executive said the company plans to leverage its smartphone portfolio in pushing its brand into Africa.

"Lenovo is a well-known and trusted brand in PCs which has resulted in us being the No. 1 PC vendor worldwide," Graeme Braum, general manager, Lenovo Africa, told IDG. "Our diversified smartphone portfolio and our innovation will help us gain a significant market share in Africa. Smartphone penetration in Africa is one of the highest in the world and our goal is to be one of the top five smartphone vendors in the continent in the very near future."

For the fourth quarter of 2013, research firm Gartner recently ranked Lenovo fourth in smartphone share worldwide, behind Samsung, Apple and Huawei, and just one-tenth of a percentage point ahead of LG.

In the face of competition from major regional players such as Ghana's rLG, Braum noted that Lenovo's proven success with smartphones elsewhere would be replicated in Africa. "We have seen our smartphones achieve success in many countries in Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. We are confident that this success will also be achieved in Africa," he said.

Lenovo is expected to roll out more of its range of smartphones in parts of Africa later this year. They include entry-level devices such as the A369i, A516, A680 and A859; the S650 and S930; and the Vibe X.

Nigeria represents a strategic market for Lenovo's smartphone business given its more than 120 million mobile subscribers, he said. The launch in that country marks the first time customers in Nigeria can purchase Lenovo smartphones; they will be available in Nigeria in March. Lenovo will move into other select African countries later in the year.

Developing economies are driving growth in smartphone sales, according to Gartner. While sales of the devices worldwide grew 36 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, Asia/Pacific and Eastern Europe, smartphone sales grew by more than 50 percent.