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Transforming Africa with the power of 5G

5G is a key enabler of digital transformation and it is critical that Africa embraces it to reap the economic opportunities on offer.

The mobile connectivity standard has already seen massive adoption worldwide, with over a billion global 5G subscribers, over 240 5G networks developed, and over 800 5G smartphone models now available.

While Africa is doing a great job of embracing 5G, as the technology is commercially available in most of Southern Africa, it must ensure plans to make it available across the continent are delivered on.

Several factors affecting the speed of 5G rollouts on the continent, and the plans for widespread adoptions, include:

  • Industry policies – Policymakers are pivotal to releasing the spectrum necessary for impactful 5G rollouts
  • ROI – Networks need ways to monetise their 5G network investments quickly.
  • Affordability – 5G needs to be affordable to a large customer base to be financially viable.
  • Ecosystem – Tools and applications must be developed that use 5G to improve lives, build skills, and embrace digital transformation.

Business cases

Key to meeting the requirements of the above-mentioned factors is establishing viable business use-cases for 5G in Africa.

Jason Zhang, Marketing Vice President of the Oversea Carrier Account at Huawei, said in a keynote at MWC Kigali 2023 that the company has seen globally how user demand has grown for high-quality digital products and services.

5G is poised to be a key enabler of these offerings – which include improved video streaming (including 4K and 8K content), multi-channel live streaming, and even AI-generated content.

“It is exciting to see how operators are effectively turning demand into new revenue sources,” said Zhang.

5G FWA

5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) services are also a key area of focus for Huawei, as it believes this is a great way to deliver fibre-like speeds more affordably in Africa.

Rain, for example, offers a 5G FWA service that delivers excellent speeds to home users in South Africa – and it is projected to break even on its network investment in only two years.

What makes 5G FWA so valuable is that it delivers high-speed, fibre-like performance in scenarios where a traditional fibre deployment would face major obstacles.

“5G offers a wonderful alternative where most demands are fully met, and service actualisation is much faster,” said Zhang.

“Countries like South Africa, Saudi Arabia, and Finland have adopted FWA to bring fast and better connectivity to homes – and over 41% of MNOs have launched 5G FWA to deliver fibre-like services.”

Grow the African economy

It is estimated that between 2021 and 2030, 5G could bring $26 billion worth of value to the African economy.

Therefore, it is important that decision-makers on the continent act fast to enable these economic benefits and grow the region’s digital economy.

“At Huawei, we are here, and we are ready to enable Africa’s digital growth,” said Zhang.

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Transforming Africa with the power of 5G