The wireless market is seeing a massive transformation and at the centre of this shift is the demand for constant connectivity which is driving innovation in areas like the IoT and Smart Cities, writes RIAAN GRAHAM, sales director for Ruckus Wireless sub-Saharan Africa.
Like the businesses it supports, the wireless market is seeing a massive transformation. At the centre of this shift is the demand for constant connectivity which is driving innovation in areas like the Internet of Things, Smart Cities, data consumption and how people, companies and machines view connectivity. Wi-Fi is the gateway to unlocking this next wave of technology in Africa.
For Africa, the biggest challenge and opportunity is still connectivity. In fact, the potential for digital-driven growth is massive. Just look at the growth of mobile on the continent. According to the GSMA at the end of 2015, 46% of the African population subscribed to mobile services which is equivalent to more than half a billion people. Over the next 5 years an additional 168 million people will be connected by mobile – reaching 725 million unique subscribers by 2020. And this is exactly where Wi-Fi comes in. Wi-Fi has an important role to play here. Wi-Fi is already connecting millions of people in Africa and represents one of the most expedient and cost-effective ways to increase both capacity and coverage of cellular networks with a tight focus on where traffic is heaviest.
Large-scale ICT investment can also play a crucial role in fuelling the growth of the continent’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) through increased economic activity, innovation and productivity. Organisations who want to take a stance on digital disruption and are looking to future-proof their business with better network speed, coverage and capacity and Governments are recognising that old infrastructure and Wi-Fi technology isn’t going to cut it if they want to move to smarter ways of operation and customer delivery.
While Africa is already using ICT investment to power its economy to reap more benefits, government and the private sector need to take bolder steps to fast track the process. The good news is that there is solid foreign direct investment into key ICT initiatives across Africa and, given the nature of the continent, home-grown innovation and new disruptive models fuelled by Wi-Fi and connectivity are opening opportunities – and Africa’s opportunity is now.
Demands are changing. Expectations are shifting. Wi-Fi and mobile-connected devices will generate 68% of all internet traffic by 2017 where more than 9 billion Wi-Fi enabled devices are expected to be in use. What’s more, the world Wi-Fi market is expected to grow to $33.6 Billion by 2020 and as an emerging market, who better than to take advantage of the opportunities it brings? Africa’s opportunity is now!