from TINTSWALO BALOYI in Johannesburg, South Africa
JOHANNESBURG – ONE of the world’s foremost smart devices makers believes the availability of affordable gadgets offers a big opportunity in driving migration to fourth and fifth generation (4G and 5G) technology.
Huawei, the Chinese-headquartered company, said there were significant business opportunities in the mobile-broadband space in building an ecosystem of affordable mobile devices to support user migration.
This was the message emerging from the fifth Huawei Africa Mobile Broadband Salon taking place at the online Africacom Africa Tech Festival from November 9-12.
“Connectivity is the foundation for digital transformation,” said facilitator, Mohamed Madkour.
He is the Vice President, Carrier Business Marketing and Solutions for Huawei.
“It’s about time that we address mobile connectivity not just in terms of speed or capacity or coverage, but also in terms of ecosystem accessibility, affordability, convenience and value,” Madkour said.
The Africacom Africa Tech Festival heard that according to GSM, the number of 4G users in Africa were expected to triple in the next five years, with population coverage increasing from 55 percent, currently, to 80 percent in 2025.
“Universal connectivity in Africa needs proactive collaboration from all stakeholders to develop profitable businesses and also encourage investment,” Madkour said.
Roy Zheng, Overseas Business Development Director for one of the semiconductor makers, said since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic outbreak, the demand for education tablets had exploded.
To meet this demand, his company was producing chipsets that enable the production of tablets priced from US$48 (R750).
Zheng’s company is able to provide chipsets for mobile phones priced from $31 (R485), which could be the ideal entry-level smartphones for 4G migration.
“The adoption of more effective technology with lower cost can drive 4G adoption,” Zheng said.
Lin Ranhao, Chief Executive Officer of Tele 1, the smartphone and tablet maker, said that during the coming years, the fastest growth of the 4G user base was likely to come from Africa.
Ranhao said Africa had many 2G users waiting to switch to 4G but despite ready infrastructure, 4G penetration was still relatively slow.
Thus, if the conversion from 2G to 4G was an urgent task for carriers, they should take a more proactive strategy, and drive this process through subsidies.
“After all, to bundle carrier plans with subsidised devices is common practice all over the world,” Ranhao said.
– CAJ News