Africa’s 5G Development Status. The most recent mobile communication technology, known as 5G, offers better data transfer capacities, lower latency, and quicker speeds.
Health, education, agriculture, manufacturing, and entertainment are just a few of the sectors and businesses that 5G has the potential to alter.
However, how far along is 5G in Africa, and what opportunities and difficulties lie in its adoption and deployment there?
Africa is anticipated to have 30 million 5G connections by 2026, making up approximately 3% of all mobile connections on the continent, according to a report by the GSMA, the global association of mobile operators. In comparison to other regions like North America (51%), Europe (31%), and Asia Pacific (27%), this is a comparatively small percentage.
However, this does not imply that Africa is falling behind in terms of experimentation and creativity with 5G. In fact, a number of African nations have already established, or are preparing to launch, 5G commercial or trial networks.
The Evolution Of 5G In Africa
The African Telecommunications Union (ATU) and Huawei Technologies Company inked a contract in January 2021 to hasten the rollout of 5G networks throughout Africa.
The agreement is anticipated to make it easier to design 5G implementation plans and strategies, as well as to build capacity and give African nations technical support.
As of June 2021, only seven African nations—South Africa, Lesotho, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Gabon, and Madagascar—have introduced commercial 5G services.
Vodacom established a standards-based 5G network on the 3.5 GHz spectrum in Lesotho, the first nation to declare a live commercial deployment of 5G in Africa, in August 2018.
The network first provided services to two business clients in the finance and mining industries, with intentions to add more users as more devices become accessible and reasonably priced.
South Africa, the most developed market for 5G in Africa, was the second nation to introduce a commercial 5G network.
The commercial fixed wireless access (FWA) service for Rain, a data-only mobile operator, launched in February 2020 utilizing Huawei hardware on the 3.6 GHz band. For R1,000 ($68) a month, users can get limitless bandwidth at speeds of up to 700 Mbps. As of October 2020, Rain has set up over 700 base stations around Johannesburg and Pretoria.
By introducing its own commercial FWA service in May 2020 on both the legal (3.6 GHz) and unlicensed (28 GHz) spectrum bands with Ericsson hardware, MTN South Africa followed following. The service has a monthly cap of 200 GB and offers speeds of up to 100 Mbps for R499 ($34). Additionally, MTN has set up more than 100 base stations in the cities of Cape Town, Durban, Pretoria, Bloemfontein, Johannesburg, and Pretoria.
Other African nations with experimental or pilot 5G networks up and running, or proposing to do so, include Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Gabon, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, and Ghana.