A new report released during the Afri Com summit in South Africa has laid out the prospect of the adoption of Artifical intelligence by African telecos and paints a picture of a race to fulfill a market need.
The report titled Telecom Artificial Intelligence Use Cases in Africa notes that AI-driven use cases are being used in Africa today and will grow significantly over time.
Most of this is being used for network management solutions will collectively be the largest AI opportunity in Africa between 2018 and 2025, with cumulative spending of more than $541 million, or almost 70% of total investment in AI solutions, during that time period.
However, rollout of these solutions in the region will be relatively slow compared to other regions in the world as countries in the region battle to NFV, SDN, and 5G networks.
The report compiled by Tractica , a market intelligence firm that focuses on human interaction with technology, notes that most of the investment in AI-driven network solutions during this period in Africa will be focused on solutions that can help automate network functionality that is in place today in non-Network functions virtualization (NFV), Software-defined networking (SDN), and 5G networks.
In telecom environments, AI can be applied to nearly every aspect of customer relations management, including personalized notifications and promotions, real-time responses to service requests, augmenting loyalty, and reducing churn.
“AI-driven customer relations management solutions are being used in Africa today. Total spending on these solutions in Africa over the forecast period will be $32.4 million, growing from $0.4 million in 2018 to $10.7 million annually in 2025,” the reports notes
The report also notes that AI-driven customer experience solutions are being used in Africa today. MTN Nigeria announced in July 2018 that they have launched a CEM platform with Nokia that will use AI to monitor and analyze network and end user device performance.
Total spending on these solutions in Africa over the forecast period will be $24.1 million, growing from $0.3 million in 2018 to $7.9 million annually in 2025.
AI-driven use cases are being used in Africa today and will grow significantly over time. However, overall spending on AI-driven use cases in Africa will be less than in other markets, because of slower adoption of NFV, SDN, and 5G. Most of the spending in Africa throughout the forecast period will concentrate on networks that are pre-NFV, SDN, and 5G, and on use cases that are not driven by highly automated network operations.
The telecom industry’s current high fixed costs and retail price pressure are squeezing operator profit margins to the point that cost control in the form of automation is being rapidly adopted. This is driving significant innovation and investment in AI solutions. However, for Africa, AI solutions are less of an urgent need because of the region’s lower operating costs (labor), relative to other markets.
“It is difficult to see how telecom operators can deliver next-generation 5G services without a significant amount of network automation. AI-driven solutions will contribute significantly to the 5G business case from the beginning and their contribution to network automation will grow over time. This will be true in Africa, as in all regions, “ the report notes.