5G network roll-out in Africa continues as pricey devices impede adoption • TechCrunch


5G mobile network adoption in regions such as North America, the Gulf Cooperation Council and Western Europe has been relatively slow, but its uptake is expected to reach more than 80% by 2027 on the back of increased use of 5G smartphones.

On the other hand, in Africa, where 5G adoption is the slowest in the world, 5G mobile subscriptions are expected to reach only 10% in the same comparative period, according to Ericsson’s latest mobility technology. Report.

Some of the continent’s largest carriers – such as Safaricom and MTN – are creating space for 5G growth by expanding infrastructure, but the low penetration of 5G devices, which still cannot afford them, is standing in the way of mass adoption.

Most (80%) of mobile devices shipped to Africa in the second quarter of this year cost less than $200, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC), an indication of declining purchasing power, and an affirmation that 5G devices will take some time before they are within the reach of the average smartphone user on the continent.

During the 5G network launch on Thursday, Safaricom, the largest mobile operator in East Africa, said it is prioritizing businesses and homes at scale, due to the low penetration of 5G phones.

Safaricom is Kenya’s dominant mobile network, and the parent company of M-Pesa, one of the world’s largest mobile money transfer platforms. The company plans to take advantage of the demand for high-speed internet by businesses and individuals working from home before offering packages to its subscribers later in the year. It is also looking into areas outside of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi (where it has not laid down its fiber optic network) to route its 5G FWA subscriber base.

Safaricom CEO (CEO) Peter Ndigwa said the approach was inspired by the low penetration of 5G mobile phones as the operator only has 200,000 5G devices on its network, which is 0.5% of the 41 million. Participants.

The adoption of 5G smartphones remains low, in large part due to the high cost of hardware. We will continue to work with our partners who sell devices or who supply devices and take advantage of our paid device financing solutions to take advantage of affordable smartphones both 4G and 5G,” said Ndigwa.

While MTN has been driving 5G adoption in Africa, it had only reached 200,000 of its 35 million customers in South Africa by the end of last year.

Despite the expensive hardware, expensive internet is also expected to hamper access for customers across Africa. Ethiopia, Botswana, Seychelles, Nigeria and Zimbabwe have launched 5G while a number of other African countries including Egypt, Gabon, Lesotho and Ghana are still conducting trials.

However, despite the increased investment in infrastructure, the slow adoption of 5G networks, with the bulk of smartphone shipments to Africa focused on 4G support, is expected to continue in a continent where the majority (43%) still use 4G devices. Third.

According to IDC, 5G devices accounted for 7.6% of smartphone shipments (although it grew slightly from the previous quarter) to Africa in the second quarter of this year, a tiny percentage compared to 3G and 4G devices, which made up 18.5%. and 73.9%, respectively.

5G networks provide ultra-fast internet speeds, low latency, and are capable of supporting up to one million devices over a square kilometer area – 10 times more gadgets than 4G networks. For organizations, the network can be leveraged to automate a wide range of processes in industries such as mining and manufacturing, to increase capacity and efficiency.

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