Read time: 3 minutes

5G and 4G network coverage a catalyst for growth in Africa

By , Portals editor
Africa , 13 Dec 2022

Ericsson research show 5G continues to scale faster than any previous mobile generation; while Fixed Wireless Access forecast estimated to top 300 million connections within six years.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, 2G connections still constitute about half of the total mobile subscriptions, and these are projected to decline as subscribers continue to migrate to 4G and 5G networks. While 4G will be the main contributor to new connections up to 2028, accounting for more than half of all mobile subscriptions at that time, 5G subscriptions will grow from 7 million in 2022 to 150 million by the end of 2028, accounting for 14% of total connections at that time.

This is according to the recently released November 2022 edition of the Ericsson mobility report, which adds that currently, 4G represents 29% of mobile subscriptions in SSA with 4G subscriptions expected to rise from 260 million in 2022 to 600 million in 2028.

The monthly data traffic per smartphone in Sub-Saharan Africa will increase by 26% from 4.6 GB per month in 2022 to 18 GB per month in 2028.

Hossam Kandeel, Vice President and Head of Global Customer Unit MTN and Customer Unit MTN Africa at Ericsson Middle East and Africa, says: “Connectivity in Africa plays a critical role in the upliftment of the continental economy. The growth in 5G and 4G network coverage will become a major catalyst for innovation, connection, and opportunity for Africans everywhere. We are proud to be a part of this journey.”

Global 5G subscriptions remain on track to top one billion by the end of this year, and five billion by the end of 2028, despite current and developing economic challenges in many parts of the world. On 5G itself, about 110 million subscriptions were added globally between July-September 2022, bringing the total to about 870 million.

As forecast in previous reports, 5G is still expected to reach one billion subscriptions by the end of this year – two years faster than 4G did, following its launch. The statistic reinforces 5G as the fastest-scaling mobile connectivity generation.

By the end of 2028, five billion 5G subscriptions are forecast globally, accounting for 55 percent of all subscriptions. In that same timeframe, 5G population coverage is projected to reach 85 percent while 5G networks are expected to carry around 70 percent of mobile traffic and account for all contemporary traffic growth.

ITWeb reported that Ericsson’s forecasts echo industry reports that FWA adoption is at a tipping point.

Last year’s Africa Digital Infrastructure Market Analysis report highlighted operators were deploying FWA, to meet the growing broadband service demand, particularly in the areas outside fibre coverage.

The report showed the highest growth was recorded during the first half of 2021 in regions with the lowest fixed broadband penetration, namely Middle East and Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, Asia Pacific, and Central and Latin America.

Smartphone dominated subscription

Overall mobile subscriptions are expected to top 8.4 billion by the end of 2022, and 9.2 billion by the end of 2028. Most subscriptions are associated with smartphones. At the end of 2022, 6.6 billion smartphone subscriptions are estimated, accounting for about 79 percent of all mobile phone subscriptions

Delegates who attended the 17th Internet Governance Forum (IGF 2022) hosted in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the beginning of December 2022, underscored the importance of digital technologies as tools for enhancing development across Africa.

Statistics show that an estimated 871 million people are not connected to the internet in Africa and access was even limited in rural areas.

Acting Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Antonio Pedro said though 70% of Africa’s population technically has access to mobile internet, less than 25% are making use of the internet due to the high cost of mobile internet across the region.

“The lack of digital and literacy skills is another key barrier to achieving digital inclusion,” he said and added: “These skills gaps have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, where the expansion of online education, e-healthcare, e-commerce and remote work, have left a large portion of the population without internet access even further behind.”

Pedro said the need for meaningful digital connectivity to boost sustainable development, particularly for the Least Developing Countries (LDCs), has never been more urgent.

Daily newsletter