Data compiled by Ecofin Agency show that in sub-Saharan Africa, 5G adoption has been growing rapidly since 2018. Furthermore, the data reveals that as of September 15, 2022, twelve telecom operators in ten markets are already marketing mobile services backed by ultra-high-speed technology. The data increasingly contradicts the modest adoption forecasts presented by several equipment manufacturers and specialized firms.

In 2021, the GSM Association (GSMA) indicated that the number of 5G connections would reach 35 million by 2025, representing 3 per cent of the number of mobile connections in the Sub-Saharan African region, where seven operators were already offering 5G in five markets.

In its report, The Mobile Economy 2022, the Association revised its estimates to 38 million 5G connections in January 2022, that’s 4 per cent of the number of mobile connections in the region.

The data further reveals that in Sub-Saharan African regions, 5G is becoming attractive as days go by. In addition to the 12 telecom operators already marketing ultra-high speeds, new operators will likely proceed to their commercial launch by the end of 2022.

In Mauritius, Emtel Ltd and Mahanagar Telephone Mauritius Ltd (MTML) won their 5G license in June 2021, but they are yet to proceed to commercial launch. In Nigeria, Mafab is also in that same situation.

In addition, several telecom operators are expected to enter the 5G segment in eleven other markets where the technology has already been tested over the past four years. The markets include Mali (Orange), Côte d’Ivoire (with Orange and MTN), and Madagascar (Telma).

Global telecom market observers’ forecasts about the increase in mobile data traffic caused by the growing connectivity demands will surely pass. For instance, in its June 2022 Mobility Report, Ericsson states that average data traffic per smartphone is expected to grow from 2.9 gigabytes per month to 11 gigabytes by 2027.

George Mbuthia, IDC senior research analyst, said, “Although the price of 5G-enabled smartphones is still quite high and may affect the uptake of mobile ultra-broadband in sub-Saharan Africa, the International Data Corporation (IDC) seems quite optimistic. This is because the slow development of 5G network infrastructure across Africa has not slowed adoption since 5G devices can also be used on the more readily available 4G networks.”

Mbuthia added that in Africa, “shipments of 5G devices increased 26.9 per cent in Q2 2022, and their share of the overall market is growing as major brands launch more flagship 5G devices into the market.”

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