ATU and Ericsson finalize plans to boost broadband connectivity in Africa

Written By: Ronald Owili

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The African Telecommunications Union (ATU) has finalized recommendations that will result into prudent management of radio spectrum and boost broadband connectivity in Africa.

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The recommendations which have been developed by ATU and Ericsson are expected usher in enhanced usage of mobile services, wireless connectivity and the effective deployment of 5G in the continent.

The draft recommendations which have been endorsed by 25 countries and representatives from the Regional Economic blocks on Friday also target to guide African countries in the strategic management of spectrum, support proper licensing and audit as well as general evolution of this crucial resource.

Radio spectrum is a natural, scarce and valuable resource that is currently being used for a wide range of applications, providing many economic and social benefits in the continent. As demand for spectrum continues to grow, regulators must work to meet the pressure that comes with managing the use of spectrum resources,” said John Omo, ATU Secretary General.

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Connection among African countries remain largely driven by wireless technologies which relies on spectrum – a radio frequency that makes it possible for wireless signal to travel.

According to GSM Association, Sub-Saharan Africa will have 332 million Internet of Things connections by 2025 with applications across a range of use cases supported by 5G.

GSMA estimates that there will be 130 million consumers in Africa using 5G network within the next four years.

As such, there has always existed the need for African countries to make enough spectrum available for mobile broadband through a spectrum allocation mechanism.

According to Omo, the recommendations provide a pathway for regulators to overcome the spectrum shortage through the adoption of appropriate spectrum policies.

The low mobile penetration in Africa which currently stands at 49% is largely attributed to insufficient spectrum despite the rising demand for access to new technological innovations and state of the art technologies.

Spectrum licensing frameworks are a critical component of maximizing the use of spectrum resources to ensure that they enhance and expand the capacity and coverage of mobile and broadband networks for the benefit of end-users as well as to help in bridging the Digital Divide,” said Dr. Mohamed EL-MOGHAZI, Chairman of the Task Group.

Kenya is among few countries in Africa which have begun 5G trials with commercialization of the spectrum expected to begin before then end of the year.

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