5G as a catalyst for economic opportunities and innovation in Sub-Saharan Africa
Over the past two decades, mobile telecommunications has transformed the face of Sub-Saharan Africa, integrating hundreds of millions of people into the digital economy and creating a new industry worth billions of dollars a year. Mobile technology has, according to the GSM Association (https://apo-opa.info/3NQOvdv), reached 1.2 billion connections and over 650 million unique mobile users in Africa.
Thanks to mobile technology, Sub-Saharan Africa has leapfrogged legacy voice and data networks, positioning itself at the forefront of innovations such as mobile money. Now, with 5G, the fifth generation of GSM cellular technology bursting into the mainstream, Africa has another opportunity to take a technological leap.
5G offers a significant jump in speed and performance over 4G/LTE with real-world speeds above 200Mbps and dramatic improvements in latency. Not only does 5G promise a far richer and faster consumer mobile broadband experience, but it will also be the bedrock on top of which organisations will build the digital economy of the future.
The speed at which operators around the world are building 5G networks is unprecedented. GSMA Intelligence forecasts (https://apo-opa.info/46uJa2D) that consumer 5G connections will raise increase from one billion at the end of 2022 to two billion by the end of 2025. This will make 5G as the fastest generational rollout of GSM tech we have seen to date.
Africa cannot afford to get left behind. According to the GSMA, 5G has the potential to contribute $26 billion to Africa's economy by 2030 when 5G will account for 20% of mobile connections in Africa. The Association reports that 5G-related activities have begun to pick up across Africa, including spectrum auctions, pilots and commercial trials.
5G set to drive the next wave of innovation
Should policymakers, regulators and network operators focus on accelerating 5G deployments across Africa, the economic dividends will be substantial. One of the immediate benefits may come from deploying 5G as a fixed-wireless and mobile broadband access technology to offer higher speed internet to the many parts of Africa where fibre networks don’t reach.
In a world of hybrid and remote work, this could foster new economic opportunities for people across the continent. It could help to catalyse innovation in cloud computing as organisations start to create innovative, localised services and applications to empower individuals, businesses, and communities in remote and underserved areas.
5G will also facilitate the digitalisation of sectors such as agriculture, healthcare, education and manufacturing, leading to increased productivity, job creation, and entrepreneurship opportunities. Higher speeds and lower latency of 5G networks will facilitate the adoption of next-generation digital technologies such as virtual/augmented reality, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.
Taken together, these technologies will improve efficiencies, enhance productivity, and provide better services across the public and private sectors alike. 5G will enable automated processes across sectors like smart cities, agriculture, transportation, and energy management. From virtual reality learning experiences and telemedicine to smart factories and intelligent grids, the possibilities are endless.
A commitment to bringing 5G everywhere in Africa
At MediaTek, we are committed to bringing 5G everywhere in support of the efforts from governments, telecoms companies, regulators and end-users. Our advanced portfolio of 5G technologies delivers fast and reliable 5G to fixed wireless access routers, mobile hotspots, PCs, smartphones, tablets, vehicles and beyond.
MediaTek is focusing on making 5G available and accessible to everyone with our Dimensity family of chipsets. The Dimensity system on a chip, or SOC, is the hardware ‘brains’ of a modern 5G smartphone, offering the best of 5G speeds, brilliant gaming technologies, and professional grade imaging and videography.
It’s our goal to enable 5G for as many people and markets in Africa as possible. We plan to work closely with customers, networks and technology suppliers to help everyone take advantage of the power of 5G. Now is the time for Africa to harness the economic, personal and societal benefits of this powerful connectivity standard.