(Ecofin Agency) - The GSMA estimates that the number of 5G subscribers will exceed 340 million in Africa, by 2030. It also expects the network to revolutionize every economic sector on the continent.
5G will contribute US$26 billion to African economies by 2030, a recent GSMA report estimates.
The report explains that 5G networks will bring substantial improvements, compared to other network generations (2G, 3G, and 4G). The improvements include exceptional connection speeds, greater capacity, lower latency, and more impact on many economic sectors.
The GSMA expects the number of 5G subscriptions will cross the 340 million bar on the continent by the end of the current decade, representing 20% of mobile subscriptions by that time.
It forecasted 4G and 5G subscriptions will make up two-thirds of mobile subscriptions while the number of 3G subscribers will drop to 32% against 2% for 2G subscriptions.
The report also indicates that 5G will improve connectivity with Fixed Wireless Access (FWA), accelerate companies' digital transformation, and meet young Africans' connectivity needs (internet connection to access video streaming, gaming, and Metaverse apps that require high-speed connection).
It will also encourage tech innovation in Africa, where the dynamic tech ecosystem is supported by over 600 tech centers and incubators. The features of the 5G network (low latency and high connection density) will present new opportunities to create innovative solutions adapted to local contexts, we learn.
The cost of 5G smartphones: the main obstacle
The report, which is based on surveys of businesses, telecom operators, and consumers in Africa, also indicates that the sectors that will benefit most from 5G subscriptions are retail, industry, agriculture, services, new technologies, transport, finance, and public administration.
During its survey, 37% of the surveyed population estimated that the main factor that will affect 5G adoption will be the cost of 5G-enabled smartphones; 27% of the population responded that it would be network coverage while 22% believe it is "use cases and applications" and 14% think it will be contentment with previous network generations.
For the African businesses surveyed, the factors that will affect 5G adoption will be lack of awareness (29%), no proven use cases and applications (29%), and insufficient tech skills (29%).
To overcome these obstacles and ensure faster deployment of 5G networks on the continent, the GSMA recommends that governments and regulators take steps to foster an enabling environment for investment and innovation, such as allocating the right amount of spectrum for 5G, encouraging the use of renewable energy by operators, using fiscal measures to facilitate the availability of 5G-enabled smartphones, and implementing regulations that ensure the cost-effectiveness of networks, including right-of-way or public domain occupation permits, electromagnetic field (EMF) rules, and small cell deployment.
Telecommunications operators, for their part, should raise consumer awareness of the benefits of 5G and work with other players to develop high-value uses tailored to local markets, while taking into account specific social, economic, and environmental factors.