As Nigeria prepares to launch the first commercial fifth generation (5G) mobile networks in Sub-Saharan Africa(SSA), the GSM Association (GSMA) says 5G connections will surpass one billion in 2022 and two billion by 2025.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) recently announced that MTN and Mafab had made payments for the 3.5GHz spectrum for 5G licence. It is expected that the two Nigerian licencees will add the rising use of 5G networks globally when launched later this year.
By the end of 2025, 5G will account for over a fifth of total mobile connections, and more than two in five people globally will live within reach of a 5G network, according to The Mobile Economy Report 2022 from the GSMA.
This unprecedented growth represents the fastest generational roll-out for the mobile industry compared to 3G and 4G. By comparison, 18 months after its launch, 5G accounted for more than 5.5 per cent of mobile connections – neither 3G nor 4G exceeded 2.2 per cent penetration in the same time.
Today there are nearly 200 live 5G networks in seven countries, including 68 operators providing 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) services and 23 delivering Stand Alone (SA) 5G services. All this supports consumer demand propelled by an ever-growing portfolio of 5G-enabled smartphones across various price points.
The chief technology officer, GSMA, Alex Sinclair said, “5G accounts for a much larger share of global mobile connections than 3G or 4G did at the same point in their lifecycles. Momentum has been boosted by factors including innovative plans, video streaming services, rising 5G handset sales, and network coverage expansions.
“In addition, the launch of 5G services in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa over the last year means that the technology is now available in every region of the world, so we are set to see more growth and more transformation for services.”
Early network capability initiatives are underway to support the increasing number of innovative consumer and enterprise use cases across the 5G Era. These include the 5G utilisation of multiple sub-3GHz spectrum bands, 5G mmWave, 5G Advanced, and Private Networks.
Nigerian Active Phones Tops 209m￼
The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Professor Umar Danbatta disclosed this while delivering the Keynote Address at the dinner hosted by the Board of Trustees of the Nigeria Media Merit Award, NMMA, to flag-off the commemoration of the 30th Anniversary of NMMA as Africa’s foremost media excellence recognition institution, at the Lagos Sheraton Hotel on Tuesday night.
“This represents a teledensity of 109.47%. Besides, basic Internet subscriptions have also grown from zero in the pre-liberalisation era to over 152 million. It is also gratifying that the broadband subscriptions now stand at 85 million, representing a 44.49% penetration,” Danbatta said.
Dwelling on the topic, “The NCC New Strategic Vision (Implementation) Plan (SVP) 2021-2025: A Transformation Agenda”,which signposts thedirection of the Nigerian telecom industry in the next five years,Danbatta recalled the trajectory of the evolution of telecoms in Nigeria.
Represented by the Director, Public Affairs of the NCC, Mr. Reuben Muoka, the CEO of NCC, he recalled the nation’s showing of a paltry 18,724 telephone lines at independence in 1960 to serve a population of 40 million people, translating to a teledensity of 0.5 at that time.
Today, “the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector contributed 18.44 per cent to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the second quarter of 2022. From this figure, telecommunications sector alone contributed 15 per cent,” Danbatta said to place on record the unprecedented contribution of the telecom and ICT industry to GDP.
3.2 billion People Lack Broadband Internet -GSMA
Around 3.2 billion people who are covered by networks are still unable to reap the benefits of this connectivity, due to lack of skills, knowledge, affordability, relevant content and other factors, a report has revealed.
The Seventh Annual GSMA SDG Impact Report, released on Wednesday, showed that, six years after becoming the first industry to commit to the SDGs, the mobile sector continues to increase its contribution to the achievement of all 17 goals; however, despite mobile operators’ continued commitment to the 2030 agenda there is still a long way to go.
A combination of global conflict, growing food and energy poverty, economic uncertainty, and the ongoing impacts of Covid-19 are creating significant headwinds, currently threatening SDG progress worldwide. In the face of these challenges, the report highlights the crucial role mobile connectivity and connected technologies can play as enablers, supporting countries as they ‘build forward better’ in pursuit of economic recovery and resilience.
The report demonstrates that those without access, in contrast, are most vulnerable to economic and social disruption, and risk falling further behind as the world emerges from the pandemic, especially as online services become even more integral to society.
FG And MTN Collaboration Critical In Achieving 70% Internet Penetration By 2025 – Onyinye Ikenna-Emeka￼
Nigeria is poised to achieve a 70 percent internet penetration in urban and rural areas by 2025 as desired by the Federal Government if tactical collaborations between the private sector and the public sector are effectively utilised.
This was stated by the General Manager for Fixed Broadband at MTN, Onyinye Ikenna-Emeka, in a recent interview with Arise TV on broadband connectivity in Africa’s most populous nation.
The Federal Government’s Broadband plan further specified the kind of internet speeds expected for both urban and rural areas; 25mbps and 10mbps respectively.
Onyinye Ikenna-Emeka, noted that MTN Group’s Strategic Ambition 2025 is in close alignment with the Federal Government’s broadband targets. According to her, the technology provider’s intent is to deliver the right level of effective digital solutions to power Africa’s growth.
For Nigeria to achieve its goal of a globally recognised digital economy, Ikenna-Emeka, an internet connectivity expert, believes that the nation will require concerted efforts by the Federal Government, public and private stakeholders to boost broadband penetration. Ikenna-Emeka expresses optimism that with existing and new policies, the country is on the right path.
“When we look back at 2012 when we had just about 6 per cent internet penetration to where we are today, there is a significant improvement. As of the end of May this year, we had about 43.6 percent penetration. That is quite encouraging,” she says.
“A lot of work is still being done by the Federal Government and organisations like MTN to achieve the right levels of broadband penetration. The journey has already started and further collaborations will help us to get better.”
To improve internet connectivity in their locality, more than a dozen African countries have tested or are planning to roll out the 5G network in the next few years. The next-gen network is predicted to contribute an additional $2.2 trillion to Africa’s economy by 2034. MTN, demonstrating its commitment to providing quality internet access to Nigerians, has laid the groundwork to provide the 5G service in several parts of the country in the coming months.
Enunciating MTN’s role as a driver of quality network across the country, Ikenna-Emeka says “Today, what is most prevalent is the fixed wireless access and that is the technology that is being adopted by all operators globally. That’s what we want to scale and accelerate in our drive to achieve broadband penetration.
“We’re very shortly going to launch the 5G technology. There is also a lot of progress we’ve made in fibre optics which is another prevalent technology. This, along with the 3G, 4G, and 5G networks will provide us with the ability to serve more market segments and more different sectors.”
The internet connectivity specialist further expounds that continued acceleration of internet access and the ability to adapt and expand on new technologies will bolster broadband connectivity that would match Nigeria’s growing population.
On the challenges of expanding internet connectivity in unconnected areas in the country, she says “Recently, we have received some legislation from the Federal Government to improve internet access in the rural or less connected states and that is critical in driving broadband penetration and connectivity.”
“One of the ways we are driving that penetration as a telco is by ensuring that we leverage on our mix of technologies. We currently have access to 3G, 4G, and coming soon, the 5G. And we are going to utilise this mix of technologies to deliver fit-for-purpose connectivity in different areas in Nigeria,” she adds.
Recently, international companies like Meta and Starlink have begun to adopt satellites in providing internet connectivity, and Africa has been encouraged to adopt similar technological measures to boost its developing digital landscape.
Ikenna-Emeka expresses belief that it speaks to the need for increased collaboration to drive penetration.
“It is quite interesting and speaks to the localisation of global trends – global digital transformation initiative. It’s a welcome development because to achieve the levels of penetration that we require, both at urban and rural levels, and to ride on the right levels of partnerships and collaborations, we will be requiring a mix of technologies. We look forward to seeing how that plays out in the future,” she says.
MTN Nigeria recently launched its home broadband services tailored to provide fast and reliable internet access in homes across Nigeria. With the imminent commercial deployment of the 5G network, Nigeria will be hoping to expand its internet penetration and connectivity to achieve its ambition of a near-perfect digital economy in the next three years.
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