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Fifth-generation network launch in Africa

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By Mercy Kelani

Deployment of this network began in August, 2022, in Nigeria.

Telecommunications operator, MTN, revealed in its Integrated Report for last year, 2022,that it looks forward to achieving a 10 percent fifth-generation (5G) network reach by December 2023. It has enabled deployment of about 2500 5G sites all over its nineteen markets in two continents in the world. In Nigeria, the telecoms giant has deployed over 550 5G sites in major cities which began in August 2022. The deployment started with Lagos before gradual expansion to Abuja, Ibadan, Owerri, Port-Harcourt, Kano and Maiduguri.

Mafab Communication the second licensee for 5G network announced its readiness to deploy after the expiring of the extension of five months given to it by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).This announcement was made in January and since then Nigerians are yet to get the promise services from Mafab. Also, Airtel which was the sole bidder in December 2022 in the second phase of 5G auction as not disclosed its rollout plans since it got its license from the NCC.

Affordability and availability is equal to adoption of these devices.

MTN Group Chief Executive Officer, Ralph Mupita, stated in the Integrated Report that it deployed 3,498 3G and 7,993 4G sites. This amounted to an increment in the 3G and 4G coverage of the company by 9 million and 45 million people, respectively. In 2022, there was a roll out of 1,570 5G sites, majorly in South Africa and Nigeria, summing up the total number of 5G sites to 2,527. After the company’s winning of the spectrum organized by the Independent Communication Authority of South Africa, it is said to roll out 5G.

In 2022, MTN became the first operator to launch 5G in Nigeria after being rewarded 100MHv spectrum for 5G in the South African option. A report by the Global System for Mobile Telecommunications Association (GSMA) stated that there was an increase in the shipment of 5G-enabled devices by 26.9 percent to Nigeria and other Sub-Saharan African countries last year. This report titled “The Mobile Economy: Sub-Saharan Africa 2022” noted that the availability and affordability of 5G devices is essential to adoption of 5G in Sub-Saharan Africa.

There is increasing demand for 5G-enabled devices.

The truth in this report is evident given that the slow rise of 4G across this African region is mostly as a result of expensive cost of devices. Regardless, smartphone shipment data for the region denotes increasing demand for 5G-enabled devices. This growth is fostered by some factors which includes a young and tech-oriented population with cravings for the newest Technology and rising competition among Smartphones producers to provide the most advanced and affordable models to the market.

According to the report, affordable 5G devices were mainly manufactured by Chinese brands, while Transsion brands lead the market in number of sales. At the end of September 2022, 81 markets across the world had 214 model operators launch commercial 5G services. GSMA further stated that 5G is now mainstream in major markets as it accounts for almost 50 percent of mobile connections in South Korea and more than a third in the United States (US).

The telecoms sector had increased foreign investment in 2022.

GSMA further affirmed that the growth of 5G has been driven by various factors such as economic recovery from COVID-19 pandemic, total market effort and increasing sales of 5G handsets. The increment in 5G rollout and 4G expansion boosted foreign Investment by about 325.12 percent into the Telecommunication industry in 2022. Despite the challenging economic environment of the country, the sector is trying its best to ensure retaining its foreign investment appeal. According to the National Bureau of Statistic (NBS), telecoms attracted $456.82 million in 2022, compared to $107.46 million in 2021.


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