Where is Africa in the 5G mania sweeping the wireless market? Updated for 2021

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Updated: March 2, 2021

In all these debates and preparations about the super fast 5G network already in use in the United States and elsewhere, where is the world’s second biggest continent of 1.2 billion people living in about 55 countries?

In the United States of America and elsewhere, investments are being made for 5G, especially with promises that its mobile broadband speed would be up to 100 times faster than current 4G networks.

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Major mergers in the United States are being impacted by promises of a 5G network delivery, its speed and its safety.

For instance, 5G has become a factor in the proposed merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. 

According to Axios, “to convince regulators to approve the deal, T-Mobile has promised to cover 85% of rural Americans with its 5G network within 3 years, and 90% in 6 years”.

Verizon has even launched 5G service in parts of Chicago and Minneapolis, although with limited coverage.

AT&T has also labeled its existing 4G devices and networks as 5G “E”, a label that drew criticism because they were not necessarily any faster than other 4G connections.

The problem with 5G network is that technology hasn’t yet materialized on a large scale and there is no indication that would be the case anytime soon.

Also, many investors remain a bit hesitant, unable to see how much return on investment they would derive if they invested the billions of dollars needed for a global 5G network. 

Still, 5G is rolling out commercially around the world, although, only to parts of a few cities for each carrier.

But in Africa, there seems to be silence. It remains unclear what some of the biggest networks on the continent such as South Africa’s MTN, Nigeria’s Globalcom and France’s Orange are working on. 

In many of African countries, 2G and 3G networks are still being used and infrastructure for 4G remains absent.

Worse, regulators do not seem to do anything to prepare for the inevitable 5G network with its benefits and challenges, especially with allegations of spying on countries using the 5G infrastructure often developed outside of Africa. 

Even more worrisome is the lack of debates on campuses and elsewhere in Africa about the benefits and dangers surrounding 5G network or infrastructure. 

Send us your opinion on Africa’s readiness for 5G networks: simonateba@https://www.https://www.todaynewsafrica.com

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Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba covers the White House, the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions for Today News Africa in Washington D.C. Simon can be reached on simonateba@todaynewsafrica.com

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