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SA to account for most 5G subscriptions in Sub-Saharan Africa

By , ITWeb senior news journalist.
Africa , South Africa , 30 Nov 2021

In Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), 5G subscriptions will represent around 10% of all mobile subscriptions by 2027, with South Africa expected to lead the adoption rate in the region.

This is one of the key findings of the Ericsson Mobility Report presented at Ericsson’s virtual event this morning.

The report looks back at some of the key mobility trends and events that have shaped the last decade, as well as revealing the latest forecasts towards 2027.

Unpacking the findings, Fredrik Jejdling, executive VP and head of networks at Ericsson, said 5G is on track to become the dominant mobile access technology, based on subscriptions globally, by 2027.

The fifth-generation technology is expected to grow faster than 4G, accounting for around 50% of all mobile subscriptions worldwide – covering 75% of the world’s population and carrying 62% of the global smartphone traffic by 2027, says the report.

However, SSA continues to lag behind global counterparts in the race for 5G, with 4G estimated to only account for close to 20% of subscriptions at the end of 2021, he noted.

By 2027, 5G mobile subscriptions in SSA will exceed 70 million 5G subscriptions, says Ericsson.

“While 5G and 4G subscriptions will continue to grow over the next six years, High Speed Packet Access will remain the dominant technology, with a share of 40% in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2027.

“Over the forecast period, discernible volumes of 5G subscriptions are expected from 2022, reaching 10% in 2027. Although we don’t have the breakdown for each country, South Africa is the leading market in SSA, so it will have more than 10% of 5G by 2027,” explained Jejdling.

In SSA, mobile penetration is less than the global average and mobile subscriptions will continue to grow by an additional 25% over the forecast period, according to the report.

Furthermore, over the forecast period, the total number of mobile broadband subscriptions is predicted to increase, reaching 78% of subscriptions in the region.

Looking at the globe, there are several factors that will contribute to 5G accounting for nearly half of all mobile subscriptions by 2027.

Ericsson notes the increase is due to stronger than expected demand in China and North America, driven in part by decreasing prices of 5G devices.

It adds there was also a net addition of 98 million 5G subscriptions globally in Q3 2021, compared to 48 million new 4G subscriptions. At the end of 2021, it says, it is estimated 5G networks will cover more than two billion people.

In SA, 5G networks still remain patchy in the country’s metros, with mobile operators waiting for telecoms regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), to auction the much-needed high-demand spectrum to expand 5G coverage.

To date, the telcos have used temporary spectrum that ICASA released in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to launch 5G networks.

* Article first published on

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