Connecting all of Africa to mobile internet by 2030 would add 5.5pct to projected economic growth of the region over the next decade, a latest report by Global System for Mobile Communication (GSMA) indicated. At the end of 2019, the economic benefits generated from mobile technology in Africa accounted for 6.2pct of the continent’s GDP.
Nonetheless, the report also revealed Africa allocate low spectrum but charge higher price.
African governments had licensed an average of around 80 MHz of spectrum per operator and 250 MHz per country, half less than the global average of 150 MHz assigned per operator and 480 MHz per country,
Yet, median prices of telecommunication spectrum in Africa are four times higher than in the developed world and twice as high as the global median. ‘This gap in spectrum assignments has emerged and expanded over the last decade, making it difficult for African operators to offer fast mobile broadband speeds.’
Despite continued progress with the expansion of mobile service and mobile internet connectivity, 50pct of Africans (680 million people) did not use mobile and almost 75pct (950 million people) did not access mobile internet services in 2019.
Ill-advised spectrum allocation policies are affecting spectrum fees operators pay to access spectrum, affecting development of telecom industry, particularly mobile connectivity, according to the report. ‘For instance, when spectrum is auctioned, governments can increase fees by setting excessive minimum prices (i.e. reserves), artificially limiting spectrum supply or creating uncertainty around the future availability of spectrum,’ states the report, which assessed 50 African countries against benchmark of 80 countries around the world, for 2010 to 2019 period.
The report indicated many African countries still have unsold spectrum, which could accelerate connectivity of 3G, 4G and 5G.
‘African governments should assign spectrum that is left over for use in the 900, 1800 and 2100 MHz bands, and further assign spectrum that facilitates 4G coverage expansion, including digital dividend spectrum (700 and 800 MHz bands), as well as capacity spectrum (2300 and 2600 MHz bands). Authorities should also plan to allocate mmWave spectrum, which will be required for 5G,’ recommends the report.