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Nokia says partnerships are key to improving continental connectivity

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Photo by Bloomberg

10th November 2022

By: Marleny Arnoldi

Deputy Editor Online

     

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As many telecommunications and technologies companies work to connect the 200-million people without mobile broadband coverage in sub-Saharan Africa and improve the affordability of data, Finnish technology group Nokia has been focused on developing solutions that lower operators’ total cost of ownership to ensure a better return on investment with rural connectivity.

UK-headquartered mobile network organisation GSMA reports in its ‘State of Mobile Internet Connectivity Report 2022’ that more than half of adults in sub-Saharan Africa remain unconnected; however, the organisation is seeing high year-on-year growth rates of smartphone uptake, and 4G connections on the continent.

Nonprofit organisation Unconnected finds Africa to be the continent with the lowest Internet penetration rate at 39% of the population, compared with the global average of 59%.

In turn, only 6% of Africans have access to broadband Internet and Africa remains the continent with the most expensive Internet globally.

Nokia mobile networks sales head for Middle East and Africa Danial Mausoof told Engineering News on the sidelines of the Africa Tech Festival 2022, in Cape Town, that the company offers various technologies suited to rural areas, with robust security measures to ensure continued service and the asset safety of service providers.

For example, Nokia has developed off-grid power solutions that use solar power and batteries to drive down costs for the operator and improve their returns. These off-grid power solutions also lower the cost of building rural infrastructure and overcome challenges around electrification.

Mausoof believes that collaboration between regulators and industry is key to ensuring the digital divide narrows on the continent.

The company has been increasingly collaborating with industry peers to realise more connectivity in Africa. For example, Nokia has announced it will provide its 7250 IXR – or interconnected router – platforms with 400G-enabled interfaces to Africa Data Centres (ADC), the continent’s largest provider of interconnected, carrier- and cloud-neutral data centre facilities, and subsidiary of Cassava Technologies.

The solution will enable ADC to offer cost-effective and high-capacity interconnection services to its customers in multiple African countries.

ADC will deploy the routers running the Nokia Service Router Operating System to run Metro Ethernet Forum 3.0-certified interconnection services. This will offer customers ethernet-based virtual cross-connects, cloud-onramp and continent-wide remote peering services.

Nokia’s platform will help ADC accelerate time-to-market connectivity services that can be easily consumed by customers, allowing them to deploy workloads in any location and interconnect them.

Nokia has also partnered with another Cassava subsidiary, Liquid Networks, which is part of Liquid Intelligent Technologies, through a channel partner agreement.

The agreement will see Liquid Networks market, distribute and service Nokia’s product line of its Nokia Digital Automation Cloud (NDAC) solution portfolio, which consists of Nokia fourth- and fifth-generation radio access equipment and an NDAC core solution for onsite campus deployments.

Liquid Networks South Africa CEO Deon Geyser says being a Nokia Global Partner Programme member is a significant milestone for the company, adding that customers are now able to benefit from the speed and simplicity of the NDAC platform.

Nokia, through its Global Partner Programme, has deployed mission-critical networks to more than 2 200 enterprise customers in various sectors including energy, manufacturing and transport globally.

It has also extended its expertise to more than 485 large private wireless customers. In turn, Nokia strengthens its primary route to market for enterprise and public sector business opportunities through the programme.

GETTING THERE

Mausoof and Nokia chief technology officer for Southern Africa Jan Liebenberg agree that there is an aspiration among African governments to digitise and get people living in remote areas connected to digital services.

They affirm that there is increasing dialogue on connectivity and the African Telecommunications Union is also fostering discussions between different countries and different regulators on the matter. 

Funding efforts from US-based Universal Services Fund and the International Finance Corporation have played significant catalytic roles across the continent in getting people connected and up to speed with digitalisation in Africa.

Liebenberg believes government could do more from a regulatory perspective to drive connectivity and ensure universal access to people, especially through tax mechanisms to make devices more affordable and perhaps to afford “spatial spectrum” specifically in areas with high digital division.  

This is particularly vital if industries such as agriculture are to become more connected, and therefore more productive in the economy.

Liebenberg and Mausoof say Nokia will continue pursuing innovation in its technologies to cater to the world’s changing telecommunication, information technology and consumer electronics needs, as it has been doing since 1865.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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