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Friday, October 13, 2023

Increased investments panacea to fully unlock Africa’s 5G adoption

There is still a strong push for 5G connectivity and its market opportunities for Africa almost half a decade after the evolution of this new technology.

To this end, African leaders have been challenged to scale-up investments for 5G deployment amidst growing calls to prioritize closing the already widening digital gap.

This when achieved according to the industry players will propel the continent to fully reap the benefits of the digital economy and enhance regional and inter-continental integration.

Telecommunication networks on the continent have been under pressure to speed up the adoption of 5G but their strides in continue to hit a snag largely because Africa lags behind in terms of 5G infrastructure and resources.

Suffice to say, the policy and regulatory framework needed to drive the anticipated widespread 5G rollout among member countries is almost absent.

In a bid, to rapidly accelerate 5G in Africa and make the continent ready for the technological shift and the economic payoff therein, the 2023 Huawei Mobile BroadBand Forum (MBBF) assembled key actors to discuss among other critical issues, ways Africa can catch up and improve connectivity given its peculiar socio-economic landscape.

“Looking forward, we have lots of work to do. We need to enhance our capabilities, evolve the technology, create better user experience, scale up in industry, and maximize the value of our investment on 5G”, says, Huawei’s Rotating Chairman Ken Hu.

Africa and 5G

For instance, Africa’s mobile industry has picked up the pace in recent years, making mobile internet a practical reality for more people across the continent.

In the past 10 years, the number of mobile broadband users in the region has increased by a factor of 20, but gaps in usage and coverage still remain.

According to GSMA Intelligence, at the end of 2022, only 28% of Africa’s population was connected to and using mobile broadband.

Although 3G remains the dominant form of connectivity in Sub-Saharan Africa, the mobile industry is expected to expand rapidly and shift towards next-generation technologies over the next few years.

GSMA Intelligence predicts that 4G and 5G will account for nearly two thirds of total mobile connections in Africa by the end of 2030.

In this same timeframe, the mobile industry is expected to generate US$280 billion in economic growth and become a new engine for socioeconomic development in the region.

Mats Granryd, GSMA Director General stressed that, “5G is driving digital transformation across industries and opening up enormous opportunities. In 2030, 5G will add US$1 trillion to global economy, with benefits spreading across all industries.”

Ghana and 5G

Ghana is unfortunately not one of the African countries that have taken off with 5G services. It is among those facing delays despite its huge government-led digital advancements.

However, government through the Ministry of Communication and Digitalization has opted for a neutral shared network to facilitate mobile services delivered through the 5G spectrum.  The data suggests, only about 15 percent of mobile phone users use 4G as of June 2023.

Sector Minister, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful has said, “we’ll be working with network operators and private investors to set up a 4G and 5G network as well, so we are not going to be auctioning 5G, we are giving it to these networks so that all operators can use it and extend it to about 80% of the population”.

The strategy according to the government to align market players and correct any imbalances thereof.

Huawei’s support

In the meantime, Huawei Technologies as a leader in 5G technology is promising to ensure that Africa unleashes its maximum potential in the space.

The company is committed to introduce tailor-made solutions for this cutting-edge technology.

President of Wireless Soultions at Huawei Technologies, Cao Ming at one of the break-out session opined that,

“Huawei is a solution provider. We are dedicated to providing diverse solutions for different scenarios and all markets.  That is why we are dedicated to introducing affordable devices for emerging markets and the products and solutions to the relevant African markets.”

“I think that in the next several years, 5G deployment in Africa will accelerate”, he concluded.

Huawei and GSMA Intelligence held the Africa Mobile Broadband Summit 2023 in Dubai.

The event brought together African telecom regulators, industry organizations, carriers, think tanks, and industry partners to discuss a wide range of topics, including expanding mobile coverage, increasing 4G uptake, and managing the region’s evolution towards 5G.

Michael Maren
Michael Maren
Former marine biologist who likes to spend as much time in the tropics as possible, due to a horrible time I once had in Alaska. Brrrr.

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