5G: it’s Africa’s turn this year

After landing in several countries, 5G is expected to largely take hold in “emerging” countries this year. According to a study by the GSMA, some 30 countries in Africa and Asia will adopt the fifth generation of mobile networks in 2023, which will be the “second wave” of deployment of the technology. 5G: it’s Africa’s turn this year:

5G: it's Africa's turn this year

5G: it’s Africa’s turn this year: Available for five years in the United States and South Korea and for more than two years in Europe, 5G will continue to expand around the world.

By 2023, 30 countries, mainly in Africa and Asia, will see the fifth generation of mobile networks installed.

According to a study by the GSMA, the organization representing the world’s telecom operators, these deployments will be the “second wave” of 5G rollouts, showing that the technology is becoming a “true global trend.” And of the networks that will be deployed, 15 will be 5G SA (Stand-Alone).

5G in more than 100 countries by the end of 2023

The GSMA reports that as of January, 87 countries could already take advantage of 5G, and 229 telecom operators are marketing 5G-enabled plans to date. And by the end of the year, more than 100 countries are expected to benefit from the telecommunications technology worldwide.

5G: it’s Africa’s turn this year. In Africa, several countries will benefit from 5G this year, including Ethiopia and Ghana, which will drastically increase the 5G coverage rate in the sub-Saharan region. To date, it is only 1% but will be 4% by 2025 and 16% by 2030.

In short, 5G is still in its infancy in Africa. Even its commercial deployment in some countries is to be put into perspective, knowing that it is very often limited to the scale of certain large cities and/or a few business districts.

African candidate countries

Does Africa have 5G? In Barcelona this year, the Mobile World Congress (MWC) was the scene of the latest innovations in mobile connectivity, both on the quality of services and network security, highlighting in particular 5G.

From February 27 to March 2, 2023, operators and equipment manufacturers took advantage of this international gathering of ecosystem players to reveal these innovations and announce multiple partnerships to encourage 5G deployment worldwide. At MWC 2023, Cisco and Intel, for example, announced the launch of joint reference architecture projects for private 5G services for enterprises and IoT use cases, with ambitious goals: they predict that “by 2026, approximately 80 to 90% of enterprises will have integrated private 5G into their network.

At the end of 2022, on the African continent alone, we counted 10 states in the test phase of 5G services: Ghana, Uganda, Senegal, Nigeria, Mauritius, Madagascar, Lesotho, Kenya, Gabon and finally, Egypt.

Other countries are expected to join this list very soon, such as Benin. The latter is home to a new player providing 2G, 3G and 4G services, Celtiis, which has been present on the Beninese market since October 2022 and which announced in early 2023 that its telecommunications network is now compatible with 5G technology.

How can 5G be harnessed to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa?

2023 will be the year of 5G in Africa and the expected positive externalities in the industry are immense. This technology will allow some countries to impressively accelerate the performance of companies by reducing the costs and drudgery of certain trades by allowing, for example, to remotely control devices dedicated to mining through a technology developed by Huawei Northern Africa.

These technologies will be applied to both tertiary and primary industrial segments, which are sources of dynamism for developing countries’ exports, such as agriculture and freight transport, in order to boost the performance of these economies and thus strengthen the resilience of the countries. On February 23, the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said: “African countries should adopt digital tools in their attempt to increase crop yields in the face of climate shocks.

At the same time, while 5G technology can reduce the environmental impact of certain industries by increasing their yields and efficiency tenfold, it is itself an intrinsic source of energy savings. Studies show that today’s 5G antenna designs consume three times less energy than 4G antennas. By 2025, these antennas are expected to save up to ten times less energy than a 4G antenna and up to 20 times less by 2030.

Technological innovation for SDG

Technological innovation has become a major pillar to accelerate national and international responses to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are just as cross-cutting as the opportunities offered by faster and more secure connectivity with 5G.

The mobile industry has always mobilized to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs as defined by the UN. Including during the COVID-19 crisis. In a 2020 report published by the GSM Association: the entire industry was halfway to achieving the SDGs by the end of 2020. Up from 48% in 2019 and 33% in 2015.

Among the greatest achievements, a 33% gain in average download speeds worldwide despite a growing tariff cost. A significant improvement that is explained, according to the association, by the increase in quality and connectivity through 4G and 5G technologies.

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