What is the prospect of 5G in Nigeria? Nigeria is undeniably the biggest economy in Africa in 2019 and also Africa’s most populated country.
Although Nigeria’s technology industry is booming, especially when compared to its sister African countries, a lot has gone wrong in recent years. Several experts have blamed this on the country’s poor infrastructure and poor last mile broadband penetration.
Adoption of 4G in Nigeria
From the 2G to 3G and then 4G, the internet has truly transformed and improved Nigeria’s economy but the economic success of the 4G in Nigeria is questionable.
According to telecommunication analysts, the 4G network in Nigeria, and most African countries is an economic failure. The research conducted by Xalam Analysts indicates that the monetization of 4G in Africa is highly problematic. Also, there is no solid correlation between strong adoption of 4G and increased mobile operator profitability.
In a nutshell, there have been a poor adoption of 4G in Nigeria and most African countries. Statistics from GSMA, the GSM Association which represents 800 operators across the world, shows that only 4 percent of Nigerians are using 4G while 44 percent are using 3G. Whereas 18 percent and 16 percent are using 4G in South Africa and Angola respectively.
Obviously, this indicates the poor adoption of 4G in Nigeria.
The 5G Hype
News about 5G is everywhere. You can find tons of articles on Google talking about what the future holds for the technology. Also, the promise the technology holds for driverless cars is one of its major drivers.
Furthermore, 5G is expected to drive everything from robot surgeons to self-driving cars. The success of the fifth industrial revolution depends on it. Previous cellular networks (2G, 3G, and 4G) were all focused on mobile phones but 5G has a larger scope. Due to its transmission speed and bandwidth, it would be possible for objects to send and receive signals at incredible speed.
Also, with 5G, it would be possible to build a truly smart city and smart homes. Objects like refrigerators, smartphones, fans, electronics, traffic light, and even cars can communicate with each other, sending and receiving signals at such a speed that will just blow you off. In addition, the success of a lot of other technologies such as augmented reality and a huge part of AI depends on 5G technology.
What Does the Future Hold for 5G in Nigeria?
Given the hype around it, one would seriously consider the prospect of 5G in Nigeria. The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) said that Nigeria will be ready for 5G by 2020. NCC’s Executive Vice Chairman Prof. Umar Danbatta said that NCC is not ready at the moment in terms of policy and regulations but it has already started processes and reserved three frequency bands to for the easy release of 5G in Nigeria.
However, Akinwale Goodluck, Head of Sub-Saharan Africa GSMA pointed out that it is necessary for the industry and government to collaborate in order to enable the right policy environment. He added that there is a risk that citizens will lag behind in productivity if policies do not keep pace with technological innovation and societal needs.
Interestingly, several telecoms in Nigeria have indicated interests in 5G. Globacom has invested a lot in upgrading its network. Glo promised to launch 5G in the 700mhz band for IoT application this year.
Furthermore, the first 5G phone will be released in mid-2019 but there will probably not be a noticeable speed difference. Also, the phones will be able to switch between 4G and 5G network to provide users with stable coverage.
As 5G makes its way into Nigeria, it will first be available in major cities like Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Abuja before entering smaller cities, this might take years. This means that much of the functionalities of 5G may not be usable in Nigeria for a long time. In other words, it will take time for the network to be extensive enough to meet expectations.
In conclusion, the success of 5G in Nigeria depends on the collaboration of industries and the government but Nigeria has what it takes to lead the market in Africa.