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GSMA Reports on Sub-Saharan Africa

GSMA recently released couple of reports on Sub-Saharan Africa. The Mobile Economy Report (including the Infographic above) and 5G: laying the foundations report. The interesting bit was the technology popularity in the region. This can be seen in the picture below.

2019 is the year when 3G overtakes 2G and in 2023, 4G will overtake 2G. What should be remembered here is that in 2025, there will roughly be 1.04 billion connections. So in 2025, nearly 620 million 3G connection, 120 million 2G connections, 230 million 4G connections but only 30 million 5G connections.

The 5G report details the number of IoT connections. There will be 332 million connections, 130 million in the consumer segment while 202 million in the enterprise. My guess will be that the majority will still be 2G in 2025, with LTE-M and NB-IoT just starting to become noticable.

The final chart that is interesting is the backhaul that is used in different parts of the world. In SSA there is hardly any Fiber in use today and there won't be significant amount of fibre in use even in 2025. On the other hand satellites play a big role in providing backhaul today as well as in 2025. With satellite backhaul, an operator can do 2G, 3G and/or 4G but very difficult to do 5G.

Finally, to prepare for the 3G subscribers, both MTN and Orange have launched KaiOS based 3G phones. MTN has launched MTN Smart T 3G across MENA and SSA while Orange has launched Sanza across multiple African markets. We will have to wait a couple of years before we can see how accurate the predictions are and how popular these KaiOS 3G phones become.

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