A new report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), Assessing 5G Readiness in Africa, has revealed that the rollout of 5G connectivity in Africa continues to experience delays mainly because of market wrangling and regulatory holdups, with 13 out of the continent’s 53 nations connected to the high-speed internet platform.

The report attributes the slow rollout of 5G internet connectivity across Africa to higher taxes and levies and the sluggish uptake of smartphones.

EIU also cites operators’ increased focus on 3G and 4G and high price points for 5G against low disposable incomes as impediments.

“Only 13 out of 53 African countries have launched 5G as at end-2022, and we expect that two-thirds will not launch services until at least 2025,” stated the EIU.

Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe are listed to have rolled out 5G internet.

According to GSMA, 5G networks will account for less than 10 per cent of total mobile subscriptions in most African countries, even in 2025. According to analysts, 3G networks will continue to dominate the market, and African telecommunications companies are cautious regarding 5G-related investment.

The EIU report stated: “Telecoms companies in Africa face a slew of subsector taxes and levies. This results in high tariffs for the end consumer. Policymakers can explore measures such as infrastructure-sharing to reduce costs or to review telecoms levies.”

As such, “regulators in Africa will need to make policy changes such as allocating relevant spectrum and lowering tariffs to enable a faster rollout” of 5G.

Regional telecoms giants such as MTN and Vodacom, which have a presence across multiple African countries, are seen as the front-runners for 5G.

In 2023 Egypt and Ghana are expected to roll out commercial 5G networks, with Orange (France) and MTN (South Africa) ready to debut the high-speed network.

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