Telecoms regulators and network operators in Africa should see the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic as a catalyst to speed up the rollout of 5G networks and services.
This would not only support the continent’s transition towards a digital economy, but also help unlock significant growth opportunities across the continent, says Rami Osman, director for corporate sales and marketing at MediaTek Middle East and Africa.
“5G network services are key not only in providing faster and lower latency connectivity to smartphone and PC users, but also in enabling the next generation of digital platforms and services, including Internet of Things, virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR), and advanced robotics,” he says.
Osman believes the 5G network technology standard has the potential to create new revenue streams for network operators, drive digital inclusion and improve the end-user experience across video streaming, large file downloads, online gaming and Fourth Industrial Revolution applications.
Sub-Saharan Africa – a region with a population of 1,1-billion – is expected to achieve 30-million mobile 5G connections by 2025, according to the GSMA. By then, 5G technology will account for around half of mobile connections in regions like China and North America. However, the pandemic is creating an impetus to accelerate 5G rollouts and adoption worldwide. Kenya recently became the second African country after South Africa to introduce widely available 5G networks.
“5G has a valuable role to play in providing high-speed broadband connectivity to households and businesses that are poorly served by fixed-line infrastructure,” says Osman. “Dramatically speeding up fast and reliable Internet service deployments is essential in the pandemic and post-pandemic landscape, with the global digital economy booming and more economic, educational and public service activities moving online.”
Osman says that the 5G boom has already started in many parts of the world, with IDC predicting that 5G shipments will account for more than 40% of global smartphone shipments this year, growing to 69% in 2025. 5G growth is a factor in pushing worldwide smartphone shipments to a forecasted 5.5% growth rate this year, says IDC.
MediaTek, a semiconductor company, has focused heavily on creating cost-effective 5G modem data cards and 5G-ready smartphone chipsets to clear the way for global adoption of 5G services. According to Osman, MediaTek’s portfolio not only includes solutions that make 5G handsets accessible and affordable to the mass market, but also solutions for PCs, the intelligent home and various other Internet of Things applications.
“MediaTek is rolling out its advanced 5G technology across the PC, mobile, home, auto and IoT segments to make super-fast connectivity accessible to everyone,” he says.