4G, 5G Technology: How Sub Sahara Africa Can Leapfrog Development

Commercial 5G services are now available in every region of the world, making it a truly global technology. Today, nearly 220 operators in over 80 markets around the world have launched commercial 5G services. By 2030, there will be more than 5.3 billion 5G connections, representing over half of total mobile connections globally. At least 60 per cent of the world’s population will be covered by 5G networks. In Africa, the journey to 5G has begun but it is still in early stages for network deployment and commercialisation. Governments and enterprises in the region are increasingly using technology to tackle the biggest challenges faced by society, and 5G will no doubt play a key role in this area. This is especially important in the context of Covid-19 and ongoing efforts to build more resilient economies and meet the growing demand for enhanced connectivity. In 2022, Sub-Saharan Africa had 980 million mobile subscriptions, with only 22 per cent using 4G technology. By 2030, this figure is expected to leap to 66 per cent of mobile subscribers connected to either 4G or 5G networks. 4G technology is forecasted to account for 49 per cent of all mobile connections in sub-Sahara Africa by 2030, up from 22 per cent in 2022. This is a finding of the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA), which in its «The Mobile Economy: Sub-Saharan Africa» report published in November 2023, also forecasted that 5G adoption will reach 17 per cent by the same year. 4G’s prevalence is poised to redefine the way communities engage with digital services, be it for education, commerce, healthcare, or social interactions. Service providers in Sub-Saharan Africa are evolving into technology companies, integrating mobile money services into their digital portfolios. This shift not only enhances financial inclusion in society but also significantly boosts revenue for service providers, complementing traditional voice and data services. The increase in 4G adoption in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to benefit mobile operators by expanding their customer base. According ...

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