The importance of 5G to Africa’s business success was underlined last week at the 2023 Africa 5G Summit (run as part of the sixth Southern Africa Mobile Broadband [MBB] VIP Salon). The summit was hosted by Huawei and took place during AfricaCom, the continent’s largest technology conference. It brought together industry leaders, regional government regulators, and representatives from industry organisations to share their 5G development strategies and industry experience.
The theme of this year’s summit was “5G Lights Up Africa Together Towards Business Success”. Among the topics discussed were how operators in Southern Africa can continuously build value-added networks for 5G, how they can improve the 5G network experience, accelerate fixed wireless access (FWA) industry development, and achieve 5G business success.
Richard Liu, President of Global Carrier Marketing & Solution Sales Dept of Huawei, opened the summit with a keynote speech titled, “Dream Africa’s 5G Prosperity, Build an Inclusive Digital Cornerstone”. In the speech, he called for continuous localised innovation in Africa and for players across the sector to work together to build a digital Africa.
“The remarkable intergenerational capabilities of 5G networks are accelerating the development of the ICT industry, and also stimulating huge innovation momentum, changing our lives and society,” he said.
“Global operators with a firm 5G strategy have achieved business success,” he added. “To achieve Africa’s 5G prosperity dream, it is recommended to build a digital Africa via three inclusive innovations: inclusive ecosystems, inclusive services and inclusive networks. These innovations can be achieved by maturing the 5G terminal ecosystem, developing FWA services and building 4G/5G synergy network, build a solid digital foundation of Africa.”
Thabisa Faye, Director and Chairman of the 5G Council Committee of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), delivered an insightful speech on the value of spectrum in Africa.
“3.6 million jobs is what they say can be derived out of the mobile industry, either directly or indirectly,” she said. “When we look quite closely at the African scenario and more specifically the sub-Saharan region, we can see that traffic has grown quite significantly.”
Zoltan Miklos, General Manager of Access and Architecture, MTN South Africa, shared the Ambition 2025 development strategy for the mobile network. He pointed out that 5G is the key strength to overcome macro and industry context and the core of ambition 2025 strategy. MTN South Africa will adopt digital solutions that lead Africa’s progress and strive to build the best 5G network and provide excellent user experience. In particular, he pointed to the need to create solutions that cater to the lived reality of African customers.”
“If you look at the 5G system, a large proportion of users are on post-paid,” he said. “What’s quite important and what we’ve done is we don’t limit 5G between prepaid and post-paid. From a network perspective, every user on this network is actually provisioned for 5G.”
James Langat, Director of regional network implementation and operations at Safaricom, delivered a speech introducing Safaricom’s wireless home broadband strategy and also spoke about the opportunities that 5G offers.
“The first opportunity, of course is that we deliver 5G MBB (mobile broadband) to our users and we have a growing number of our users adopting 5G,” he said.
Alan Loh, Executive General Manager of Innovative Solutions at Zain Saudi Arabia, shared that company’s 5G business success results. He explained that Zain has become a global leader in 5G FWA by focusing on three core areas: leading services, leading network experience, and leading technologies in the 5G era.
Abdul Malik Ahmed, Senior Manager of the Fixed Broadband Marketing Dept of MTN Nigeria, shared MTN Nigeria’s “Own THE HOME” wireless home broadband strategy, including FWA/FTTx technologies and future network construction plans. He said that FWA is the main driving force for home broadband growth. The “Own THE HOME” wireless home broadband strategy will continue to develop 4G/5G FWA and FTTH services to win home broadband customers. MTN Nigeria, he added, will continue to enable Nigeria’s future digital transformation through 5G.
Finally, Calvin Govender, EBU General Manager of MTN South Africa, delivered a keynote speech entitled, “5G Accelerating Digital Transformation in South Africa”. Within the speech, he outlined the how transformative 5G is across the entire value chain, including for consumers.
“5G looks at a rich experience across the segments,” he said. “At a consumer level, you’ll feel the 5G speed. You’ll be able to unlock applications and services that you could not do on the 4G network.”
Kenechi Okeleke, Regional, Social and Policy Research Director of GSMA Intelligence, shared insights on the future development trends and opportunities of 5G FWA services in Africa. The Africa 5G Summit ended with the release of white paper titled “5G FWA in Africa, Emerging Trends and Opportunities” by the GSMA Intelligence.