Nigeria and other Sub-Saharan African countries will grow their 5G connections to 226 million by 2030, GSMA has disclosed.
This would be equivalent to an adoption rate of 17 per cent and Nigeria and South Africa will account for almost half of these connections. The global body for telcos, in its ‘The Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa (2023) report, noted that 5G growth in the region will be slow but steady, as a larger share of the customer base will continue to migrate and use 4G.
It said, “5G is also gathering momentum in the region due to operators’ efforts to modernise and prepare their networks. 5G adoption is expected to grow more quickly in the second half of this decade, rising to 17 per cent by 2030.”
While 5G’s momentum continues to grow, the initial focus for 5G deployment is on urban areas and industrial locations, where there is greater need for the technology, GSMA pointed out. 5G is expected to benefit the Sub-Saharan Africa economy by $11bn in 2030, it added.
Most subscribers on the continent are expected to continue to rely on 4G, with connections almost doubling by 2030, pushing 4G adoption rate in the region to 49 per cent. This growth will be driven by continued network upgrades and efforts to make 4G devices more affordable.
GSMA highlighted, “This transition to 4G means that the number of connections on legacy networks (2G and 3G) will decline steadily in the coming years. In July 2023, MTN and Airtel launched 4G LTE services in Rwanda after the government amended their operating licences to allow them to roll out the technology.”
According to GSMA, Mobile connectivity in the region continues to drive digital transformation and socioeconomic advancements. This underlines the need for continued efforts to address the persisting barriers that impact mobile internet adoption in the region, particularly the affordability of devices, online safety concerns, and the lack of digital skills.
The number of unique mobile subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to hit 700 million by the end of 2030, with Nigeria and Ethiopia accounting for almost a third of total subscribers in the region. Mobile penetration ould also hit 50 per cent in that period, still below the global average of 73 per cent by the same year.
Commenting on the growth of mobile connectivity at the recently held Mobile World Congress in Kigali (where ‘The Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa (2023) was released), the president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, said, “Today, Africa has the fastest-growing mobile penetration rate globally. But we still have a long way to go. Yet, we already have the means to address the problems we are dealing with today.
“We must continue to prioritize digital skills and literacy. Globally, we are also seeing strong momentum to support Africa’s digital transformation. If there is one lesson from the pandemic, it is that in times of crisis, we have to look for the common denominator. Only then, can we see the light at the end of the tunnel, and build the future we all deserve.:
The Director General of the GSMA, Mats Granryd, added, “The mobile industry has seen remarkable growth across Sub-Saharan Africa and now reaches almost 490 million unique subscribers – but only one-in-four people in the region subscribe to the mobile internet.
“MWC Kigali provides a forum for policymakers and leaders in connectivity to come together and discuss ways of accelerating the digital transformation of Africa, closing the usage gap and, ultimately, ensuring everybody in the region benefits.”