5G to reach 30 million subscriptions in Middle East & Africa by 2024

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MWC 19 is done and dusted, but one of the major themes for the Barcelona-based event, 5G, is still front of mind for many.

One company that falls into that category is Ericsson, which not only laid out its intentions for the new broadband standard, but has followed that up with its latest Mobility Report (PDF).

One of the more interesting elements of the report looked at how many 5G subscriptions will be made between now and 2024, with Ericsson noting that an estimated 30 million subscriptions for the Middle East and Africa (MEA).

Should that number come to pass, Ericsson adds that it would make up 2 percent of total mobile subscriptions, and would in turn make 5G the fastest generation of mobile technology to roll out on a global scale.

As far as which countries will have the biggest appetite, those in the Middle East are viewed as being the most eager, but Ericsson does say that South Africa isn’t too far behind.

“The majority of the 5G subscriptions in the MEA are expected to come from advanced ICT markets like the GCC countries Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar while in Africa, considerable momentum is building up in South Africa,” explains the firm.

Speaking of the local outlook, at MWC 19 Huawei and local provider Rain announced a commercial 5G network to roll out by the middle of the year, which should soon be followed by other operators in the country. That said, there is still some uncertainty as government drags its feet on making spectrum available.

Should they take a more proactive approach, the potential in terms of ICT growth in the region are considerable, according to the Swedish telecoms company.

“In Sub-Saharan Africa, gross domestic product (GDP) growth is expected to show an upward trend, supported by rising commodity prices and improvement of the investment environment in large economies such as Nigeria and South Africa,” their report says.

“Continued economic growth in the region, coupled with a young population, favourable policies and lower cost devices will drive investment in the telecoms sector, increasing uptake of ICT services,” it continues.

With enhanced mobile broadband one of the biggest reasons why countries in MEA, Ericsson also points out that there are other potential business benefits outside of simply having more speed available.

In particular, they highlight 5G’s ability to offer businesses greater opportunity when it comes to industrial automation, fixed wireless access (FWA), advanced media services (AR and VR), as well as increased safety and security.

“The first wave of 5G introduction in the Middle East and Africa targets the FWA segment where operators utilise it as an alternative to fibre, with quick time to market, as well as being an additional revenue stream,” Ericsson explains.

“However, for the full 5G potential, large-scale rollout and to achieve long-term success, two main areas need to be addressed, namely spectrum availability and use case development,” they conclude.

With 5G holding a myriad benefits and opportunities, the race is on to get it up and running in MEA, and South Africa especially.

Read the full February 2019 Ericsson Mobility Report (Middle East and Africa) here.

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Editor of Hypertext. Covers smartphones, IoT, 5G, cloud computing and a few things in between. Also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games when not taking the hatchet to stories.