Consumer 5G in Africa is not for 2021

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In Lomé, on November 27, the operator Togocell struck a blow announcing the first commercial 5G offer in West Africa. ” A commercial 5G, indeed, but it is a 5G turned business initially, that is to say for institutions, for the administration and large companies “, explains Lionel Tsoto, director of communication of Togocom, the parent company of Togocell. ” We wanted to focus on the B to B, corporate offer. Afterwards, it is true that we have pressure from the general public, who are waiting for an offer, but everything in its time. »

In South Africa, a country where three operators offer 5G offers, there too companies are the first to be served. “It is more the banks that are the customers. We count 500 to 600 for the moment. So it’s not a technology used by the general public, but rather by institutions that want to be at the forefront “says Beaugas Orain Djoyum, founder of the strategic watch firm specializing in new technologies, ICT Media Strategy.

The general African public may have to wait a long time, according to analysts. “Figures from the GSMA which is the global association of telecom operators predict that in 2025, there will be only 3% of mobile subscribers in Africa who will be connected to 5Gadds Beaugas Orain Djoyum.

The reasons for the slow arrival of 5G in Africa

Several factors explain this slow penetration. First, the technology is expensive, second, 5G is mostly useful for so-called internet of things or autonomous driving, technologies that are not yet used in Africa. There is therefore no urgency to offer subscriptions.

However, 5G will also help relieve congested mobile networks, especially in densely populated areas. In Dakar, Sonatel has therefore launched 5G tests. “Our ambition is, by the end of 2022, to be able to introduce this technology», Says Sekou Dramé CEO of Sonatel. Then add:There will be a lot of work needed on upgrading our network, on investments to be made, on the training plan and on improving the skills of the teams. Provided of course that the authorities set up the necessary framework, in terms of availability of frequencies and authorisations. The conditions of access to spectral resources will be decisive for the rapid deployment of this technology.»

In other words, Sonatel is waiting to know what the price to pay for 5G frequencies will be. A central question, especially since countries like Senegal or Togo aim to accelerate their digital transformation. The Togolese administration, for example, is shaping up to be a big consumer of 5G.

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