African countries have been urged to leverage Fifth- Generation (5G) network for social and economic development.
Speaking, yesterday, at the ongoing GITEX Africa Summit, in Marrakesh, Morocco, the Director, Social and Regional Research, GSMA, UK, Kenechi Okeleke, said 5G technology is positioned to help African countries close the digital divide.
Okeleke, as a panelist on the theme, ‘Beyond Bandwidth: Exploring the Social and Economic Impacts of 5G’, said Nigeria and other African countries started mobile telephony adoption rather too late, stressing that as of the time the region began, advanced countries had already moved past 2G and 3G, and were already considering 4G.
“So, if care is not taken and Africa is not fast in investing and expanding 5G, we could be left behind.“
Today, technology is fast evolving. We are talking about 5G now, research is ongoing about 6G. I think Africa should capitalise on 5G technology, move fast, and compete globally.
Already, Nigerian Communications Commission, under Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umar Danbatta, has licensed three operators, since the country’s 5G journey began in 2021
However, only MTN has deployed the service on commercial basis and has expanded to 13 cities.
Meanwhile, Mafab Communications and Airtel are still waiting for the right time to begin the service in Nigeria.
Also, at the GITEX summit, Chief Commercial Officer, DU, Karen Benkirane, said though adoption of 5G is still low in Africa because of some challenges, including cost of devices, deployment and education, “the region is well ripe for the technology.
”Benkirane said not leveraging it now would cost the continent a lot because Africa is part of the ecosystem. “Nobody would wait for it.”
“Most especially, the technology can help Africa bridge the access gap and provide services to the under-served and un-served population.”
For the General Manager, Business and Corporate Development, Inwi, Morocco, Mohammed Benmahjoub, 5G connectivity would be very good for the continent.
“We must increase the level of education around it for fast adoption,” he added.
Speaking on 5G Expansion and Energy Security, the Secretary General, African Telecommunications Union, Kenya, John Omo, said while 5G would consume more energy, there shouldn’t be a trade off between the technology and energy.
Omo said Africa has potential for solar and renewable energy, which can help bridge the power gap.
“Largely, bridging that gap depends on government’s policies on 5G deployment. But there is no trade off! It is for the region to find a way to mend the gap between 5G and energy utilisation,” Omo stated.