Ericsson, a network connectivity company has called on telecoms operators (Telcos) across Africa, to focus more on network investments, in order to meet the growing demand for data, occasioned by the new normal, brought about by COVID-19.
Head of Project Management Operations, Ericsson West Africa, Mr. Anthony Okenwa, who gave the advice in one of his recent virtual presentations, said: “Africa has become a home to over a billion people and the population is expected to grow in the coming years. The sector of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is essential for Africa’s development and adequate ICT service deployment and digital connectivity will play a crucial role in the continent achieving economic sustainability.”
Citing a recent Ericsson Mobility Report, Okenwa said: “The forecast is that mobile data traffic in sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to grow by 12 times the current figures, with total traffic increasing from 0.33 Exabytes (EB) per month to 4EB by 2025. Meanwhile, average traffic per smartphone is expected to reach 7.1GB over the forecast period.” He therefore explained that key drivers would be extensive network coverage and the reduction in prices of both devices and services, adding that the increase of mobile data traffic in Africa is driving operators to look at opportunities to optimize their network capacities, including complementing capacity via Wi-Fi networks.
“Hence, mobile and fixed networks have become key components of critical national infrastructure in Africa. In sub-Saharan Africa, Long Term Evolution (LTE) accounted for around 11 per cent of subscriptions in 2019. Over the forecast period, mobile broadband subscriptions are predicted to increase, reaching 72 per cent of mobile subscriptions. LTE share will reach around 30 per cent by the end of the forecast period, and LTE subscriptions are set to triple, increasing from 90 million in 2019 to 270 million in 2025,” Okenwa said.
He insisted that for for service providers, investment and modernisation of networks remained the essential way to meet demand for data and future-proof operations for the benefit of all stakeholders, adding that it will also enable them to provide their mobile broadband community with the highest quality of service available, delivered via cutting edge infrastructure and technology to ensure a superior mobile experience for customers.
Access to high-quality broadband services is based on networks that supports rapid growth in internet traffic as well as competitive pricing. There is supporting evidence that proves that a rise in mobile broadband penetration can be linked to economic growth and job creation, he said.
“Although supporting evidence may vary in its estimation on the exact contribution to the economy, there are enough to support these claims in that an increase in broadband penetration are associated with increases in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), creating jobs, increase of educational opportunities, and enhancing service delivery and rural development,” Okenwa further explained.
He however, listed four key requirements needed to be addressed to establish the link between broadband penetration and economic growth to include: Broadband must reach a critical mass of a country’s citizens; Broadband access must be affordable; Demand-side skills must be developed to optimize broadband services for personal and business use; Supply-side skills need to be developed in order to exploit the innovative potential of broadband.
As an augmentation of current mobile technologies, Okenwa said 5G could consequently ensure significant economic advantages for a country’s citizens. He however said the characteristics in speed, reliability and latency means that 5G could potentially be a technology, which will enable new markets, develop and transform current industries, as well as support socio-economic benefits.