AFRICA – Innovative 5G services will generate US$5.2bn of economic expansion (0.7% of GDP growth) in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2034, according to a report released by the GSMA.

This huge opportunity for Africa’s digital economy depends on the availability of necessary radio frequencies, including those known as ‘millimetre wave’ frequencies that will deliver ultra-high capacity and ultra-high-speed services.

However, efforts by the European space industry to unreasonably constrain the use of these critical frequencies has 5G’s future hanging in the balance.

Akinwale Goodluck, Head of Sub-Saharan Africa, GSMA, said “Africa must stand strong at WRC-19 to protect its interests and secure its digital future, 5G will be an evolutionary step with a revolutionary impact, having a deeper effect on our lives than any previous mobile generation.

“As mobile operators continue to expand 4G connections across the region, now is the time for African governments to lay the foundation for their 5G future by identifying the needed spectrum at WRC-19.”

In Sub-Saharan Africa, the roll-out of mobile networks and services has allowed communities to leapfrog wired infrastructure and embrace the Information Age much quicker and more cost effectively than in many developed countries.

Building on earlier generations, 5G brings new capabilities for mobile networks to enable economic growth.

5G, coupled with mmWave spectrum, opens the potential for low-latency, data-intensive applications that are expected to transform a wide variety of industries and use cases.

These will benefit new applications, helping the region’s transport logistics infrastructure (in-land transport hubs and seaports) and extractive industries (mining and hydrocarbon production), among others.

By enabling improvements to vital transport links in the economy, such as port logistics infrastructure, 5G will drive growth in the trade industry.

5G mmWave applications will enable coordinated movement of goods and remote control of essential machinery, leading to more efficient port operations and lower costs, allowing for increased trade.

5G mmWave applications will also make extraction activities in mining and manufacturing more cost-effective and safer by leveraging high speed connectivity and remote object manipulation.

The GSM Association is a trade body that represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide. Approximately 800 mobile operators are full GSMA members and a further 300 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem are associate members.