Ericsson wants to accelerate 5G adoption in Africa
Todd Ashton’s immediate task as newly-appointed Ericsson vice-president and head of South and East Africa within the Middle East and Africa is to drive the adoption of 5G on the African continent.
Ashton took the new role on 1 August and prior to assuming the position, he served as head of Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
In an interview with ITWeb, Ashton says Ericsson is continuously working with partners to identify and create 5G use cases relevant to the African market.
“One of our first major steps towards rolling out 5G in Africa was the announcement in November 2019 that Ericsson had been selected by MTN South Africa as a 5G network modernisation vendor.”
Vendors that are positioning themselves to take advantage of the 5G growth in SA include Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia and ZTE.
So far, Vodacom, MTN and data-only network Rain have announced commercial 5G launches in SA.
A key challenge of spectrum allocation in SA is that spectrum is currently used for analogue broadcasting due to delays in digital migration.
“Africa is a very diverse market when it comes to technology maturity and, for that reason, we are driving 5G technology towards the advanced markets, and for the less advanced markets, we are working very closely with our partners to prepare them to catch up with the big technology race, starting with 4G and paving the way towards 5G as a next step.”
According to Ashton, Africa has a relatively low level of 4G penetration today, and he believes that by working together with customers and other stakeholders, Ericsson will accelerate the rollout of 4G and eventually 5G across the continent.
“This will, in turn, unleash the potential and creativity that exists in Africa. Many of us consider that achieving broadband for all is a basic human right and we know that for every 1 000 new broadband connections, 80 new jobs are created.”
Ashton adds a 10% increase in mobile broadband adoption secures 0.6-2.8% GDP growth and a doubling of average achieved broadband speed generates an additional 0.3% GDP growth.
“We are on a mission to accelerate the rollout of 4G, paving the way for 5G to empower Africa’s technology-enabled economies. I’ve seen the impact this can have in places like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and I’m convinced we can do even bigger things for Africa.
“We work closely with our partners, the mobile operators, in the region to bring these technologies to the people. South and East Africa is a diverse region in terms of technology maturity, but we are proud to co-operate across the different markets, bringing our technology expertise from 2G/3G in some areas and all the way to 5G in others.”