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Expert differs with NCC boss on Africa’s readiness for 5G

Whereas the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof Umar Garba Danbatta, yesterday told the global community that African continent holds the ace and that 5G is the next frontier of investment, leading industry analysts have faulted his presentation at the Intentional Telecommunications Union (ITU) Telecom World 2019 in Budapest, Hungary.

Prof Danbatta had in his presentation claimed that with a large number of 3.7 billion global unconnected population out of which 1.2 billion reside in Africa, 5G investment will be money spinner for telecoms investors from across the world to the continent.

With the representatives of global ICT giants, including Nokia, Orange, and AT&T among other panelists, Danbatta said 5G will provide a very veritable and convincing investment for investors.

However, in a telephone interview, a data systems analyst, Mr Kunle Dawodu disagreed with the NCC’s boss, saying “Even if 5G technology will see the needed market due to the African population asset, the scarcity of infrastructure including power and low penetration digital inclusion will not encourage target investors.”

“Africa is in need of technology, but it is yet to put infrastructures on ground to drive the push for international investors to come in with the latest technology.

Dawodu argued that “With the cost of deploying 5G and the quantum of what it can be used for, Africa is yet to begin the type of businesses that need 5G. Even the 4G, not up to 10 per cent of Nigerians and by extension, Africans have accessed it because the continent is yet to have the needed infrastructure upon which 4G can run seamlessly.

In his further submission, he called on African governments to work on power improvement because 5G relies mostly on steady electricity to be meaningful, revealing that the major reason why 4G access in Nigeria has been unstable is power crisis.

As if Danbatta knows what is in experts mind on 5G, he told participants at the ITU that government alone cannot do it and accordingly, beckoned on the private sector to take advantage of the opportunities provided by 5G and invest in Africa which guarantees adequate returns on investment.

He said “We need to look at 5G usage scenarios, and there are 3 of them: The enhanced mobile broadband applications, the ultra-reliable low latency applications and the Machine to Machine applications.

“ In our own part of the world, we are looking closely at these key areas of usage scenarios. The one that African countries will subscribe to quickly is the enhanced mobile broadband applications. The reason is for this is that, African countries are trying to roll out broadband infrastructure for broadband applications. So this will spurs us on to ensure we put in place the necessary infrastructure,” he explained.

The university don averred that African nations are trying to reserve the spectrum for the roll out of broadband services. “Specifically in Nigeria we are talking about three, 26, 38 and 42 GHz. These frequencies exist and we are not licensing it for other applications. We are waiting in anticipation for the standardization process to be completed at the World Radio Communication (WRC) in Egypt and then we can see how we can go forward with the licensing processes in the 3 frequencies, Prof Danbatta added.

Official of the AT&T also assured the audience that so far his company has successfully deployed 5G in the United States of America (USA) with no security so far.

Panelists agreed at the session that 5G is not only an evolution but also a revolution and the journey is long complete standardization by the ITU is underway, as everybody looks forward to 2020 when the standardization will take root.

Panelists also agreed that satellite communications will complement terrestrial deployment of 5G services.

ITU Telecom World 2019, which began on Monday, September 9, comes to a close on today, Thursday, September 12, 2019.