Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.

4G/5G

5G lags in sub-Saharan Africa

Article Image
5G technology is expected to tick up in sub-Saharan Africa over the next few years, but 3G will remain the dominant tech on the continent – with a share of over 40% of mobile subscriptions in 2026 – according to the newest Ericsson Mobility Report for June 2021.

Although 5G subscriptions were still below 1% of total subs in sub-Saharan Africa at the end of 2020, Ericsson expects "discernible volumes of 5G subscriptions" by 2022, reaching about 7% in 2026.

Ericsson predicts that 4G will grow to be about 28% of sub-Saharan Africa's subscriptions by 2026.

In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, commercial 5G deployments are happening faster and 5G subscriptions exceeded 1 million at the end of 2020. Significant 5G volumes are expected in 2021 and the region is likely to reach around 150 million 5G subscriptions in 2026, representing 18% of total mobile subscriptions.

Globally 5G is expected to be the fastest deployed mobile communication technology in history and is forecast to cover about 60% of the world's population in 2026.

At the end of 2020, 4G accounted for around 15% of subscriptions in sub-Saharan Africa while 3G was still the biggest portion at 43%, followed by 2G at just under 42%.

In comparison, in a region like North America the 2G/3G share of subscriptions is only 7%.

Mobile subscriptions by region and technology (percent)
Source: Ericsson Mobility Report June 2021.

Growth continues

Africa's mobile usage continues to grow in general. In the first quarter of 2021, more than 20% of the global net additions in mobile subscriptions were recorded in Africa, with Nigeria having the third-highest numbers globally of net adds.

Driving factors behind the growth of mobile broadband subscriptions include a young, growing population with increasing digital skills and more affordable smartphones.

For sub-Saharan Africa, mobile broadband subscriptions are also predicted to increase, reaching 76% of mobile subscriptions by 2026.

Data traffic boom

Globally, data traffic saw a 46% increase between the first quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021.

The MENA region is expected to have the second-highest growth rate over the next six years, increasing total mobile data traffic by a factor of almost seven between 2020 and 2026.

Sub-Saharan Africa also has a very high growth rate, but from a relatively small base, with total mobile data traffic predicted to increase from 0.87EB per month in 2020 to 5.9EB in 2026.

The average data per smartphone in MENA is also expected to grow from 6.5GB per month in 2020 to reach 32GB per month in 2026.

Sub-Saharan Africa will also see average traffic per smartphone grow to 9GB per month in 2026, compared to 2.2GB per month in 2020.

Related posts:

*Top image source: GSMA.

— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

Innovation hub

Story

Hot startup of the month: South Africa's Zoie Health

This month's hot startup is South African digital women's health clinic Zoie Health – a digital app that focuses on family planning, fertility and maternity care.

Story

Orange Côte d'Ivoire launches 5G lab in Abidjan

Pan-African telecoms operator, Orange, has launched a 5G lab in Côte d'Ivoire in anticipation of its 5G network rollout in 2023.

More Innovation hub

Partner perspectives

5G is lighting up the future of North Africa
By Chris Meng, VP of Huawei Northern Africa Carrier Business Department

The moving target that is telecoms fraud
By Clémentine Fournier, Regional VP Sales, Africa, BICS

How mobile operators in Africa can address signalling threats and secure the network
By Katia Gonzalez, Head of Fraud and Security at BICS

All Partner Perspectives

Africa Tech Perspectives

Story

Women in Tech: Spotlight on inclusivity with Digital Council Africa's Juanita Clark

Digital Council Africa founder and CEO, Juanita Clark, talks to Connecting Africa as part of our Women's Month series about her career and what needs to be done to make the tech industry intentionally inclusive.

Story

Women in Tech: Spotlight on legal tech with Life.file's Sinal Govender

Life.file co-founder, Sinal Govender, talks to Connecting Africa as part of our Women's Month series about her career and how we can encourage more young girls to enter the legal tech field.

Story

Digital inclusion as a catalyst for economic empowerment: Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu

Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu talks to Connecting Africa about how digital payment solutions and mobile money are transforming the lives of small business owners, women and marginalized groups in East Africa.

More AfricaCom perspectives

Latest video

More videos

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Guest Perspectives

Story

Omdia View: July 2022

By Omdia Analysts

Kenya and Zambia move towards 5G with new spectrum allocations while Tunisie Telecom plans to shut down its 3G network - that and more in this month's Omdia View.

Story

Omdia View: June 2022

By Omdia Analysts

5G was the major news trend across Africa in June, as Orange became the first operator to launch 5G in Réunion and operators in Senegal accelerated their 5G plans despite spectrum delays.

More Guest Perspectives

Upcoming events

Africa Tech Festival
November 7-11, 2022
CTICC, Cape Town
More Upcoming events

Archived webinars

Africa Green ICT: Lighting Up a Sustainable Continent

The ICT industry is the leading industry in the commitment to carbon neutrality, whose focus has shifted from setting ambitious targets to taking initiatives. The push for zero-carbon and for green energy development, it isn't just about CSR – it's also good for sustainable business.

The path to sustainable development requires green energy. Governments are looking at potential policy approaches to make green energy more widely available and affordable. Without sustainable energy, there will be no digital transformation and no chance of making Africa more economically competitive in the post-pandemic era.

Africa Green ICT Webinar 2022 will bring together ICT industry leaders and senior industrial analysts to provide insight, best practices and key learnings on how to achieve zero-carbon targets and practice green development in Africa.

More Webinars

Sponsored video

More videos

Flash poll

All polls

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up


Sign Up