It is important to understand that 5G adoption is a commercial proposition. There are many use cases and there are noble cases like advanced healthcare and many use cases that will benefit Africa, but it is always important to consider the business case in context.
That’s why 5G ORAN in Africa will not follow the models emerging in Japan, Europe and the US.
That’s why we say African carriers need connected play, not feature set play.
5G will provide improved mobile broadband connectivity and large-scale machine-type communications. That is why use cases such as smart agriculture, smart cities, digital mining, smart logistics, advanced healthcare, Industry 4.0, modern mining, oil and gas, and personalized and highly efficient retail have captured the imagination of many through the media. .
All of these are possible, but not all of them can be widespread across Africa. In many cases, we have more pressing challenges in Africa, so we are most likely to allocate our resources where they can commercially stimulate solutions.
For example, 5G could have very positive results for smart agriculture in countries with well-developed infrastructure. However Borgen ProjectA nonprofit that addresses hunger and poverty in Africa estimates that 65% of African agriculture is subsistence farming.
Investments in African agriculture will not focus on autonomously planting, maintaining and harvesting crops by focusing on automating 5G-based crop production using Internet of Things devices.
Same goes for mines and commodities. Africa produces huge amounts of mineral goods. Worldwide, 92% of platinum, 73% of diamonds and 89% of gold are produced in African countries. The continent also produces significant amounts of bauxite for uranium, aluminum and copper.
With a much lower investment, network operators can now deploy an ORAN platform to prepare their niche for the transition to 5G.
However, African businesses have yet to see significant investments in smart mining digitization given their mid-range sector and limited geographies. The biggest challenges are the economic realities of cheaper labor and volatility in commodity prices.
In terms of advanced health care, Africa can certainly benefit from the advanced health care made possible by 5G technology, but perhaps the more pressing issue is the provision of primary care.
The United Nations World Health Organization notes that 50% of children under the age of 5 who die from pneumonia, diarrhea, measles, HIV, tuberculosis and malaria are Africans. Remote robotic surgery can help revolutionize lifesaving operations, but the deployment and routine management of various immunizations and medical interventions can arguably do more.
With this in mind, it is interesting to note that nearly all of the more than 1.2 billion Africans already have some form of cellular communication, either directly or indirectly. 2G is still an important technology in Africa. The main advantages are the long range, low power requirements and the cheap handset that comes with it. It allows for low-capacity, long-distance, low-bandwidth communications that are accessible and ideal for the African region. And the banking services that use it are reliable and cost-effective.
In this context, there’s no question why African network operators want a migration path that can bring their 5G switches up and running in a timely manner. .
Developing markets to maximize current investments and support migration and gradual adoption of 5G services presents new opportunities for service providers.
This changes the industry’s previous approach, where network operators typically drop hundreds of millions of dollars to replace and replace their network infrastructure each time a next-generation technology emerges.
With a much lower investment, network operators can now build an ORAN platform for a time when niche territories are transitioning to 5G while developing markets and revenues to support that migration.
Mature network operators and service providers across Africa say 5G is a target but not within two years. Instead, we prefer an ORAN migration that prepares for the gradual adoption of 5G services on a unified ORAN backplane.
ORAN technology offers African operators and service providers a unique opportunity to maximize their 2G, 3G and 4G investments while preparing for ultimate 5G services.
ORAN’s business case for 5G in Africa is to use it to unify 2G, 3G and 4G backplanes to create a common rail that will later include 5G with some upgrades. It also establishes a model for reusing previous-generation spectrum kits to cover network blind spots, upgrade services, and provide higher bandwidth to new and existing markets.
In the next column, we’ll go into more detail on how to work with cellular service providers to facilitate this transformation process.
What are the economic examples of 5G adoption in Africa?
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