[Africa Tech Review] Duncan Mochama:The rapid uptake of 5G and its real potential in Africa
5G network is here. This fifth generation of wireless technology promises more than just a faster network. It will help redefine the network, establishing a new global wireless standard for speed, throughput and bandwidth.
In Kenya, Safaricom is preparing to launch this network in partnership with Nokia and Huawei. Once rolled out, Kenyans are going to enjoy faster speeds. This will also make Safaricom the first operator in East Africa to launch 5G. This launch actually came as a surprise considering Safaricom had earlier in January this year halted these plans saying it wanted to focus on building its 4G network.
Research by Nokia Bell Labs in 2020 found that 5G has the potential to contribute $8 trillion to global GDP by 2030, with industries as diverse as mining, entertainment, transportation and healthcare all set to reap enormous benefits. Ericsson also this week launched a new network programmability tool, called 5G Core Policy Studio, to enable communications service providers (CSPs) to more easily capture 5G revenue through offering differentiation.
Away from matters 5G, this week, Helios Towers, the independent telecommunications infrastructure company, signed agreements with Airtel Africa to acquire its passive infrastructure operating companies in Madagascar, Malawi, Chad and Gabon. At the same time, Airtel and UNICEF Airtel launched the Internet of Good Things in Rwanda – an innovative digital platform with information and resources which promote better, healthier living. These are not the only partnerships we have seen from Airtel recently, just last week, the telco also offloaded a minority stake in its mobile money business for some $200 million.
In South Africa, cloud market is showing good signs of growth and development as enterprise customers begin to take serious notice of multicloud and its benefits as we highlighted this week. As we mentioned in our Africa Cloud review article last week, cloud adoption is indeed the future of business, especially for local SMEs.
We also had some news from African startups this week. Malagasy-based startup Jirogasy joined the Seedstar and Shell Foundation's acceleration program. This it says is an opportunity for the socially and ecologically committed solar startup to open a fundraising round. The African Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) also launched a $1.2 million Innovation Fund to unlock the potential of renewable energy to create new business opportunities. In Egypt, the United States government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), announced a collaboration with Google to train and mentor hundreds of women and youth business owners, as well as business advisors, in 2021. Still in Egypt, IFC joined forces with the Egyptian Fintech Association to support fintech entrepreneurs, part of a wider effort to spur private sector development and economic growth in the country.
GSMA this week also published its annual 'State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money.' The report reveals a dramatic acceleration in mobile transactions during the COVID-19 pandemic as lockdown restrictions limited access to cash and financial institutions. The number of registered accounts grew by 13 per cent globally in 2020 to more than 1.2 billion, the report says. At the same time, a total of 314 million mobile users across eight developing countries benefited from free internet access during the hardest months of the pandemic. This is despite having run out of credit or not being physically able to top up, another report from Upstream notes.
This week, a new report from Kaspersky also revealed that at least a quarter of users in Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya are attacked by malware hiding within their devices. Another report from KnowBe4 aldo revealed that mobile users in Africa are increasingly concerned about mobile risks and the potential for digital identity theft; however, this is not stopping them from using their favourite messaging platforms and applications.
We also had an interview with Marundu Muturi, a Customer Advocate at Incentro Africa, an IT service provider delivering custom built cloud-based software solutions for the European and African market. You can read the interview here.