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According to Huawei’s carrier network unit CTO Paul Scanlan, Africa will “leapfrog” the rest of the world, provided it can solve some of its pertinent digital transformation challenges, namely the roll out of networking technologies like 4G.
Speaking at AfricaCom on Tuesday, Scanlan believes that African countries should enable the growth of digital technologies through the collaboration of government and industry.
“If you want to drive the economy, you need to have targets. And if you have targets, you better know where you are today and you better know how to get there,” said Scanlan.
He believes that wireless technologies are at the forefront of driving this change, particularly when it comes to powering newer technologies like artificial intelligence. These technologies, in turn, power job creation.
But he did not cite 5G has a chief driver of growth for the here and now, but rather 4G.
‘This is a great opportunity. This continent will leapfrog the rest of the world’
“It’s very important to understand why 4G is terribly important for the economy. It enables the digital economy. And 5G takes you from there to the future,” said Scanlan.
“You can’t build 5G unless you have a very robust 4G. You need 4G as a platform to develop and build 5G. You need the infrastructure. Africa should continue to build 4G.”
He also stressed that 5G is not necessarily about speed, but views it as a “big pool of capacity” which can drive industries like health, manufacturing and education
“They’re what create jobs. They’re the things that transform industry,” he added.
Scanlan however doesn’t see the hurdles faced by Africa as that, but rather potential for the continent to grow into a global superpower.
“This is a great opportunity. This continent will leapfrog the rest of the world,” said Scanlan.
“It’ll take a bit of time. It’ll take some initiative. It will take a very good ecosystem and lots of bright minds. It takes ambition,” he concluded.
Feature image: AfricaCom 2019’s headliner sessions, by Andy Walker/Memeburn