Sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing a rapid shift from second-generation (2G) to fourth-generation (4G) mobile technology, driven by improved infrastructure and access to cost-effective smartphones.
The continent is increasingly becoming connected, with mobile broadband expected to account for 87% of total connections by 2025 across 690-million smartphones.
In 2017, mobile subscribers increased by 44%, boosted by a 75% hike in smartphone penetration.
While most market players are focused on bringing this connectivity into rural areas and all aspects of society, digitalisation and digital innovation, and the pursuit of fifth-generation (5G) technology, will not be an “afterthought”.
“Africa is poised at the edge of an evolution, ready to show the rest of the world what it can do with a handful of innovation and a commitment to improving infrastructure,” said Nokia Middle East and Africa customer marketing and communications head Joachim Wuilmet.
“Currently, sub-Saharan Africa is still locked into 2G but this is about to change. The move from 2G to third-generation (3G) requires significant investment and access to the right devices and technology, but then it becomes easier as 4G is a natural evolution. Currently, it is a 3G and 4G play with 4G launching in some countries,” he added.
“The continent will be chasing the potential of 5G, but the focus will be measured and strategic to ensure uptime, security and long-term capability,” said Nokia Central, East and West Africa market unit head Daniel Jaeger.
While Africa boasts impressive innovations around 5G and commercial sites are being deployed, there is a need to maintain perspective, he warned.
“We need to reach as many people as possible, migrating them to 3G and increasing smartphone penetration – before we leapfrog to 5G . . . it must be done intelligently.”