The 5th Generation mobile network launched in Madagascar by Telma Madagascar and Ericsson’s collaboration in 2020 was a landmark moment for technology advancement not only on the Indian Ocean island but for Africa too.
The launch on the 26th of June 2020 put Telma among the first operators in Africa to commercially go live with 5G, proving, yet again, that Telma is one of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) pioneers in Africa.
The precedent set in nurturing partnerships between Ericsson and telecommunications service providers like Telma Madagascar has critical implications for the digital transformation that will propel Africa’s economy.
In the 20th edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report, the industry-leading projections and analyses of the latest trends in the mobile industry, the outlook for connectivity in Sub-Saharan Africa is bright. According to the report, mobile subscriptions will continue to grow through till 2026 and in the first quarter of 2021, more than 20 percent of the global net subscription additions were recorded in Africa, with South Africa having the third-highest numbers globally of net adds. Mobile broadband subscriptions in Sub-Saharan Africa are predicted to increase through to 2026, reaching 76 percent of mobile subscriptions. And 5G and 4G subscriptions will continue to grow over the next 6 years with 5G reaching 7 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2026.
5G and mobile broadband subscription growth across the continent have a number of driving factors including a youthful, growing population with increasing digital skills and more affordable smartphones. As this trend continues it will be imperative for the public and private sector in Africa to nurture the opportunity and transform economies with the infrastructure and skills that compliment the growth of digital technologies such as 5G.
Ericsson’s commitment to Africa and collaborations with companies like Telma Madagascar come with the ambition of supporting the acceleration of Africa’s digitization journey. In fact, Ericsson is working jointly with an array of stakeholders across the continent to enable Africa in Motion.
Africa in Motion is Ericsson’s mission to empower a sustainable and connected Africa. Ericsson has been connecting Africa for over 100 years and has built the wireless networks for every generation – from the early 1G networks to the first advanced 5G networks.
“We believe that ICT is the catalyst for digital transformation, with mobile networks being the crucial ingredient in increasing Africa’s economic competitiveness in the global arena. As digital infrastructure and transaction become increasingly impactful to the development of the African societies and economies, affordable broadband access and 5G connectivity will need to be extended to over a billion individuals to bridge the “digital divide” and enable them to reap the benefits of the digital economy.”
Tackling the digital divide, continuing to build a robust ICT infrastructure, promoting sustainability, innovation, education, and entrepreneurship will be critical for maximizing the role of technology in boosting resilience and inclusive growth in Africa. By achieving that, Africa will experience a paradigm shift on all levels with new game-changers as e-health, e-government and e-education; the African society will accelerate into a much more economically advanced continent. However, this kind of collaboration between the different stakeholders in the ecosystem becomes even more important than ever to achieve this vision.
For example, their commitment to Africa and Madagascar shines through thanks to our ongoing collaboration and work with the African Telecommunications Union (ATU). Ericsson believes that spectrum is a vital component to the ambitions we’ve outlined. As recently as April, our work with the ATU allowed us to publish a series of recommendations to enable governments and regulators across Africa to accelerate Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and next-generation connectivity.
Whether it is awarding radio spectrum in a timely, predictable and cost-effective fashion to support affordable, high-quality delivery of ICT services and spur smart technology initiatives, licensing that is technology neutral and allows for service innovations, or countries enabling spectrum sharing by giving licensees the right to share spectrum voluntarily through means such as trading and national roaming agreements these recommendations and our work with the ATU is aimed at helping to propel Africa forwards with its plans for an innovative and digitalized future.
The two groups Telma and Ericcson argued that the high-speed mobile connectivity like 5G will be instrumental in providing a stable platform for innovation and economic growth, not least when we factor in the big potential that is still untapped by unlocking ecosystems and digitalizing a wide range of industry verticals such as the health sector, energy and utilities, transportation, and the agriculture sector.
Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on transformation. Communications Service Providers (CSPs) like Telma Madagascar have been at the forefront of pioneering the implementation and adoption of 5G. Coupled with the increasing amount of businesses going digital, we are seeing numerous services now possible with a new wave of software-platformed, communications-intensive technologies.
Networks are now capable of the agility businesses crave to enable the introduction of new services and capabilities more quickly and economically. Networks can now serve enterprises as well as dispersed devices and sensors on the Edge that interconnect and distribute computing and storage capacity across the network in the Internet of Things.
The learning from the introduction of 4G indicates that early adopters of 5G technology are likely to enjoy industry leadership, just as the early adopters of 4G did. Investments in 5G infrastructure is an incredible opportunity for governments in Africa and going forward it will have a massive impact on economies.
The benefits of 5G investments will be experienced both by today’s workforce and by the workforce of the future, as by estimate by 2030 two-thirds of the global workforce will use the 5G platform.
Partnerships like Ericsson’s and Telma Madagascar’s will continue to increase awareness among governments, large organizations, SMEs about the societal and economic benefits of the digital platform and specifically 5G. 5G was made for innovation, transformation and economic growth and the time is now.