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Nigeria, South Africa to push Africa’s 5G connections to 150 million by 2028 —Report

The latest mobility report by a global technology vendor, Ericsson, has projected a speedy growth in 5G across Sub-Saharan Africa, with Nigeria and South Africa in the driving seat.

According to the report, the two countries will push the continent’s 5G connections from 7 million to 150 million by 2028.

The two largest economies on the continent are also expected to immensely benefit from the technology, which the report says will drive smart industries and agriculture.

  • From the report, 4G subscriptions are expected to grow higher over the same period from 260 million in 2022 to 600 million in 2028.
  • While noting that 2G connections still constitute about half of the total mobile subscriptions in SSA, Ericsson said the number of people on 2G would decline significantly over the next 6 years as subscribers are migrated to 4G and 5G networks.

Nigeria’s role: Aside from having the largest economy in Africa, Nigeria with a population of over 200 million, currently has the largest mobile subscriptions on the continent and it is expected to lead with 5G. Already, the country had last year issued 5G licences to two telecommunications companies, MTN and Mafab Communications.

  • While MTN has since rolled out the first 5G network in the country, Mafab is expected to roll out the network in January next year. Just yesterday, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) confirmed Airtel as the sole bidder for another 5G licence, making three operators.
  • Note that South Africa was the first African country to roll out 5G in 2020. Three major operators, MTN, Vodacom, and Rain have deployed 5G networks in the country.

Why it matters: Commenting on the report, the Vice President and Head of Global Customer Unit at Ericsson Middle East and Africa Hossam Kandeel, said:

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  • “Connectivity in Africa plays a critical role in the upliftment of the continental economy. The growth in 5G and 4G network coverage will become a major catalyst for innovation, connection, and opportunity for Africans everywhere. We are proud to be a part of this journey.”

Globally, the report projects that 5G subscriptions remain on track to top one billion by the end of this year, and 5 billion by the end of 2028, despite current and developing economic challenges in many parts of the world. It adds that about 110 million 5G subscriptions were added globally between July-September 2022, bringing the total to about 870 million.

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