The article below is from SHUZIFEIZHOUGUANCHA, by AkinwaleGoodluck.
SHUZIFEIZHOUGUANCHA is the official WeChat account of the implementation platform of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). It aims to introduce the latest policies, dynamics and trends in Africa's digital industry, hold digital exchanges between China and Africa, develop in-depth reports and release research results, and promote win-win cooperation in the digital industry between China and Africa.
Editor's note: At present, African carriers and global device suppliers are working closely to promote the application of 5G in the African continent. South Africa and Lesotho have taken the lead in providing 5G services, mainly to government and enterprise customers. However, due to the high cost, the rhythm of frequency distribution, customer consumption capacity and other factors, 5G will remain in the introductory stage in the African market in the foreseeable future. How will China's "new infrastructure" capacity effectively meet Africa's demand for 5G construction? How to create value based on the actual situation of government and enterprise customers? How to leverage Africa's existing ICT facilities to reduce costs? How to advance coordinately with smart cities and other overall solutions? How do Chinese 5G enterprises make use of the overall advantages of the domestic digital industry to participate in international competition? Those are problems worth thinking about and exploring in the ICT industry.
5G is coming to the African continent, according to GSMA Africa Head Akinwale Goodluck, who was speaking during a virtual media event with African journalists.
"5G is inevitable for us in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), but it is not imminent. 5G is going to be a big enabler for the economy. 5G will drive efficiency, but for us in SSA, we still need to get quite a few things right before we can roll out 5G," Goodluck said.
However, he still believes that 5G will ultimately be "a big game changer" globally and also for those who live in SSA. "I think historically Africa has done pretty well in terms of leapfrogging, and 5G will be no different," he said. "One thing that is clear is that our 4G adoption is still below 10%, so there is a lot of work still to be done in terms of filling up the 4G pipes."
According to statistics from GSMA, which represents the interests of around 750 mobile carriers worldwide, in 2018 SSA's mobile Internet users only made up 23% of the population. GSMA projects this will rise to 39% in 2025. It also predicts that by 2025, smartphones will make up 66% of all connections in SSA.
Source: GSMA Intelligence
Goodluck explained that by 2025, SSA will see about 28 million devices connected to a 5G network, making up 2.7% of all connections in the region. When it comes to 4G adoption as a percentage of total connections, he said there was still a lot of room for growth, with only around 7% average adoption across the region (although some countries like South Africa have adoption levels of over 20%).
Goodluck said that there is a lot of work to be done in addressing the challenges and barriers to Internet adoption. He highlighted that by the end of 2019, 3G connections had for the first time outstripped 2G. GSMA believes that by 2023, 4G connections will surpass 2G connections as well, while 5G will begin to join the party slowly from 2020, but by 2025 it will likely only make up about 3% of total connections in SSA.
Source: GSMA Intelligence
"Interestingly, we see there are more and more 4G deployments across Sub-Saharan Africa and recently we've seen a lot of the governments in Sub-Saharan Africa re-tweaking their broadband plans and actually moving from 2G to 4G rather than going from 2G to 3G," he said. Goodluck believes that when 5G first comes to Africa, it will be more for the enterprise market as opposed to the retail consumer market.
When it comes to 5G, Goodluck said that power remains a significant challenge: "5G is not going to run on generators; you must have real power capability."
"We also have a lot of work to do in terms of sensitization and to help alleviate anxiety around some of the myths and untruths that have been created about 5G recently," he said, alluding to the recent trend of unfounded conspiracy theories that COVID-19 was caused by 5G.
Ultimately Goodluck thinks that African governments need to first "aggressively drive the rollout and the adoption of 4G." Market demand will help governments put in the right policies to support 5G.
Source: SHUZIFEIZHOUGUANCHA, AkinwaleGoodluck