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MTN in new broadband alliance in South Sudan as Africa considers capacity, coverage strategies

MTN has selected satellite and terrestrial networks operator Intelsat to help meet a demand for broadband in remote areas of South Sudan. It is among the latest partnerships forged to bolster broadband on the continent.

According to Intelsat, MTN will leverage the agreement to improve network capacity and provide enhanced connectivity to enterprises in South Sudan, as well as expanding mobile broadband coverage to communities in rural areas of the country.

MTN is utilising Intelsat’s expertise and advanced connectivity infrastructure to diversify its offerings, enhance application performance, strengthen network resiliency and deliver a competitive advantage.

“Intelsat has a long-standing partnership with MTN, and we are committed to helping the company expand its leadership position and meet the ever-growing demand for broadband in South Sudan,” said Intelsat director of Africa Sales, Hans Geldenhuys.

Chisanga Kaziya, chief technical and information officer, MTN South Sudan, added: “We are pleased to be partnering with Intelsat.This agreement reflects MTN’s ambition to better serve its customers and provide coverage anywhere across South Sudan.”

Africa’s broadband focus intensifies

Broadband availability and Africa’s ability to extend coverage to urban and rural areas continues to dominate tech discussion this month.

Leo Chen, President of Huawei Sub-Saharan Africa Region.
Leo Chen, President of Huawei Sub-Saharan Africa Region.

At AfricaCom 2022 in Cape Town this week, Leo Chen, President of Huawei Sub-Saharan Africa Region delivered a presentation entitled "Lighting up the Future with Nonstop Innovation". In it, he outlined Huawei’s latest ICT development concepts and successful digital transformation solutions.

“The high resilience and rapid growth of the continent’s digital economy, technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence, and cloud are evolving rapidly and the adoption of ICT in a wide range of industries is growing,” said Chen. “They are supporting Africa in advancing the technical revolution, boosting productivity and increasing jobs.”

He pointed out that over the last two decades, Africa has made significant progress in digitalisation. It has established the first-mile infrastructure, connecting countries on the continent to the global internet. Additionally, it has tripled its middle-mile internet infrastructures that expands the connection within and between countries. However, there are still challenges to be overcome.

“Today, we still need to improve the last-mile broadband infrastructure and bridge the digital divide between urban and rural areas,” Chen said.

Whilst there is appetite for a greater uptake of digital technologies, constraints including a skills deficit, and lack of viable technology solutions are impeding the advance of ICT adoption. Chen pointed out there are three major ways to break through these bottlenecks.

“We need to further deepen connectivity to connect more people, enterprises, and scenarios; unleash digital productivity and enable digital transformation in multiple industries; increase the ICT industry’s energy-efficiency and leverage ICT technologies to reduce emissions across all industries,” he added.

Working with 4G and 5G

There is no doubt Africa will continue to drive development and deployment of 5G, the continent cannot afford to be distracted from the relevance of 4G exploitation.

Dr Mohamed Madkour, VP, Global Carrier Network Solutions & Marketing, Huawei HQ, said while 5G continues to set tech agendas across Africa, 4G has paved the way for 5G and serves as a critical foundation technology.

“There are many companies that have been created only because of 4G and I tried to calculate the market cap created and its many trillions…5G is three years young, but it is still going and in Africa it’s not really popular yet, we are still figuring out how to do 5G. The big story is still about 4G in Africa,” said Madkour.

He added that the approach should be to use both technologies and leverage off the combined 4G and 5G.

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