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Africa urgently needs policy to govern infrastructure sharing

Operators within the broadband industry have urged governments across Africa to provide policy on infrastructure sharing in order to support the growth of internet connectivity amid ongoing 5G deployments.

Speaking at the Africa Law Tech Festival 2021, Dr Bello Moussa, Head of Innovation & ICT Strategy at Huawei Southern Africa, said that infrastructure sharing can lower the costs of technology deployment for the 5G coverage in Africa, as well as the time it takes to complete deployments.

“We have seen a lot of challenges in site acquisition and site deployment in 2G, 3G and 4G era,” said Moussa. “This has hindered the development of mobile telecommunication and coverage. With the 5G we will need more sites, maybe three times the number of 2G and 3G.”

“There should be a tight collaboration between municipalities and telecom service operators. This will not only save time but also the cost of deployment. The savings will be transferred to the consumer enabling digital access.”

Head of Legal and Regulatory at ATC Kenya, Lorna Nyandat added: “The government can help extend connectivity is by encouraging infrastructure sharing. It is something that is across most markets in Africa but it’s not as prevalent as it is in the west. In Kenya, we have guidelines on infrastructure sharing in particular the interconnection guidelines which encourages infrastructure sharing with both passive (not in use) and active infrastructure (in use).”

Nyandat noted that active infrastructure sharing is not prevalent in Africa and urged governments to provide favourable policies.

Moussa also urged regulators in Africa to offer favourable spectrum license fees to operators to ensure that more players can join in the 5G deployment. “We have seen in the past that spectrum has been costly for 2g, 3G and 4G. If we want to have a 5G roll out which will be beneficial to the user, the regulator has to take into consideration the spectrum cost.”

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