Ericsson has published these predications and more in its 20th annual Mobility Report. If the forecast is accurate, it means that by 2026, 7% of all mobile subscriptions on the Continent of Africa will be for 5G.
By the end of 2020, around 15% of mobile phone subscriptions in Subsaharan Africa were for 4G. Mobile broadband subscriptions are predicted to increase to 76% by 2026. But, 5G volumes are not expected to increase in 2021, while the COVID-19 pandemic persist.
Todd Ashton, Vice President and Head of Ericsson South and East Africa, commented: “Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to see continued growth in mobile broadband thanks to the young population, increased coverage, and more affordable smartphones. By 2025, we will be looking at a new normal with online activities becoming more common daily. 4G will be more pervasive and 5G will start to grow. As a result, we will definitely see increased economic growth and an acceleration in Africa’s digital inclusion.”
Implications for transport and mobility
What is 5G going to bring to consumers in Sub-Saharan Africa and what does it mean for new mobility in towns and cities?
Subsaharan Africa has a young population who see technology as a tool to get out of poverty. According to Cities Alliance, over 60% of the population is under the age of 25.
According to the UN, The World Bank and African Development Bank report there are 650 million mobile users in Africa, which surpasses the United States or Europe. And in some African countries more people have access to a mobile phone than to clean water, a bank account or electricity.
In terms of 5G, transport and mobility will benefit from connected vehicles and mobility apps, enabling users to book and pay for services using their mobile phone. The technology will also help bring about safer roads (African countries have some of the highest ratios of road traffic fatalities in the world) by enabling smart cities.
5G supports high-volume data processing, with low latency, and brings thousands of new internet-enabled devices (including vehicles) online. This will give rise to connected and improved urban transportation with the implementation of Mobility as a Service (MaaS).
In urban areas, 5G presents an opportunity for mobility, allowing cities to modernize and make transport systems more efficient. They can avoid having to operate empty or overloaded vehicles and improve public transport planning and operations while reducing traffic congestion. Space that cars used to occupy can be reallocated for cyclists and pedestrians.
Obviously, 5G is not a panacea to all of Subsaharan Africa’s ills but it provides an opportunity to address at least some of them.
Image of an African man enjoying his mobile phone courtesy of Shutterstock