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The Ericsson Mobility Report is out, painting a rosy, albeit distant, future of 5G networks in the Sub-Saharan Africa region and other markets.
The report reveals that in 2021, there will be about 150 million mobile subscriptions. This growth will be driven by the 5G network, based on standards that meet ITU IMT-2020 requirements, expected to be deployed from 2020.
The numbers are impressive in all the markets, proving once again that we now live in a connected world. Predicted to lead with the first and fastest 5G subscription uptake are South Korea, Japan, China and the US. According to the report, this growth will enable new uses as far as the Internet of Things is concerned. This, in turn, will open up new industries and avenues to enable ICT transformation.
In the Sub-Saharan region, the report predicts massive growth, forecasting that mobile penetration will reach 100%. The key figures include the growth of mobile subscription from 690 million in 2015 to over one billion by 2021 and smartphone subscriptions from 170 million in 2015 to 690 million in 2021. Data traffic per active smartphone (GB/month) will increase from the current 800 000 to four million by 2021. The total mobile traffic (EB/month) will see an increase of 55%, from the 200 000 in 2015 and reaching 2.2 million by 2021.
Mobile broadband, according to the report, is the preferred way to access the internet in Sub-Saharan Africa with up to 83 percent of Nigerians relying on it to connect to the web.
The report also affirms something that has been documented before, and that is that mobile is at the heart of driving innovation, connection and entrepreneurship in developing markets.
“Mobile is a key enabler in Africa’s growth Sub-Saharan Africa’s economic potential remains strong, with low internet penetration, a rapid rise in consumer spend and a significant unbanked population. Players in the mobile eco-system in the region aim to support socio-economic empowerment and inclusion,” the report reads.
The benefits of mobile in Sub-Saharan Africa are seen in how it has managed to solve real issues that have existed for a long time. These practical solutions that mobile has offered include the transformation of financial services, Mobility improving healthcare, optimising agriculture and changing media viewing habits as well.
To get a comprehensive picture of how important these services are in Sub-Saharan Africa, the report points to findings by the World Bank. Sub-Saharan Africa transfers, according to the World Bank, more money domestically via mobile money than any other region in the world. In 2014, up to 28% of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa had received a domestic remittance. In comparison to another market, South Asia, only four percent of the population did so in the same period.
This growth can however not happen by itself, it needs projects like Project Loon by Google, Internet.org by Facebook, Project Isizwe and other platforms that are working towards connecting more populations to the internet. This will allow a greater number of people to access the internet.
What the Ericsson Mobility Report alludes to are the great possibilities of a developing market that has huge potential. These numbers are useful both to individuals, businesses and to governments. Using these numbers, these stakeholders can better foresee future consumption of information, entertainment and basic human services. Businesses and governments will benefit greatly in the quest to tailor their services to the connected population.