The Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa 2020 report predicts that there will be just under 30m mobile 5G connections in sub-Saharan Africa in five years, with unused 4G capacity likely to be the main area of focus among companies. Vodacom and MTN launched the first major 5G networks in South Africa this year after the government assigned temporary spectrum in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, and 5G trials have been conducted in Gabon, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda. But by 2025, 5G will account for just 3% of total mobile connections, compared to 58% for 3G, 27% for 4G and 12% for 2G. Instead, 5G will largely cater to African home and business customers in the years ahead, according to the consultancy. “The immediate opportunity for 5G in South Africa, as well as the rest of the region, is to use FWA (fixed wireless access) to bridge the gap in fixed broadband connectivity for homes and businesses. However, mass adoption of mobile 5G is not imminent in the region,” says the report. The mobile sector generated 9% of GDP in sub-Saharan Africa in 2019, with operator revenues amounting to $44.3bn, but Covid-19 has had a mixed impact on the industry.
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