Africa Embraces the Digital Revolution

In today's landscape, the digital economy stands as a paramount force propelling growth in the world's leading economies. Its influence extends to the reconfiguration of global resources, a restructuring of the economic framework, and a shift in global competitiveness. Projections from industry experts paint a vivid picture, forecasting the digital economy's value to soar to an astounding 23.6 trillion dollars by 2025.

“In 2020, it already accounted for a notable 15.2% of the global GDP, a figure set to surge to an impressive 24.3% by 2025, underscoring its remarkable expansion,” Dr. Philip Song, Chief Marketing Officer of Huawei Carrier BG, highlighted in a keynote during MWC Kigali 2023 that revolved around the theme "Building a Connected Africa," with a focus on digitalization as the primary approach. He acknowledged the existence of various strategies for acceleration but emphasized the transformative power of digitalization.

The global stage witnesses an increasing number of nations designating digitalization as a cornerstone of their national strategies. Research indicates that over 170 countries have now crafted their unique digital roadmaps. Africa too has unveiled its digital aspirations through The Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa aiming to achieve broadband speeds surpassing 6Mbps continent-wide by 2030, ensuring affordable telecom services accessible to every African.

ICT: Driver of Digitalization

In recent years, the ICT industry, especially 5G, has led digital transformation and achieved leapfrog developments. Dr. Philip Song affirmed, “The value of the ICT industry is increasing year by year in terms of global GDP contribution.”

More importantly, the ICT industry has not only delivered innovative domains like mobile IoT and mobile payment but has also played a vital role in propelling economic and social progress. Alongside this, it has fueled a swift surge in industry digitalization. The widespread integration of 5G networks has ushered in a new era of heightened efficiency across sectors such as finance, agriculture, and manufacturing. This transformative wave has not only boosted productivity but has also led to a substantial expansion in economic scale, marking a monumental leap forward.

Africa's Digital Future: Three Opportunities

Dr. Philip Song delved into digitalization from three crucial angles, "First and foremost, it's imperative to 'Go Digital.' We're well aware that there are still areas lacking connectivity. However, once this foundation is laid, the true value of connectivity emerges in digital production and everyday life, far surpassing its initial purpose."

In addition, when it comes to 'Go 5G,' the benefits are evident. The introduction of 5G services promises an enhanced user experience. Nevertheless, post-5G deployment, the challenge lies in increasing ARPU and acquiring new users, presenting both a challenge and an opportunity.

Lastly, 'Go Green.' Sustainability has always been paramount. Huawei has made great strides in green development and has called to collectively embrace a greener future.

Connected Africa: Connectivity as a Stepping Stone for Digital Prosperity

In the journey towards a digitally prosperous Africa, connectivity stands as the foundational stepping stone. “Across the continent, the proliferation of ICT technology marks a significant stride towards comprehensive digital transformation.” A report by Endeavor paints a promising picture, projecting a six-fold expansion of the digital economy by 2050. This surge is evident in the popularity of online shopping, particularly among the younger generation, drawn in by its seamless user experience. The construction of robust digital infrastructure is poised to unleash an explosive growth in both Internet and e-commerce users.

Yet, challenges persist. Dr. Philip Song highlighted, “In Cameroon, for instance, 15% of the population remains unconnected, limiting their access to a world of digital services. Vital opportunities like online banking and e-commerce remain untapped.” In this pursuit, Huawei remains steadfastly aligned with operators, striving to extend top-tier connectivity to more individuals. Through mobile networks, villages come alive with video calls and internet surfing. Online banking, powered by mobile money, offers a safer alternative to carrying cash.

Moreover, connectivity extends to the realm of education, opening doors for children to explore a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips. It is clear: connectivity is the cornerstone upon which a digital world is built, and digitalization is the compass guiding us towards an enriched life.

5G Unleashes Ultimate Experience in Accelerated Africa

For an accelerated Africa, Dr. Philip Song stated, “We witness a whirlwind of progress sweeping across society. Development surges forward, technology evolves at an unprecedented pace, and our immersive experiences are undergoing a transformation of their own. Bid farewell to the conventional video experiences of the past; we stand on the cusp of a cross-generational revolution.”

In addition, end users are poised to revel in a newfound realm of possibilities, from free-view video to the stunning clarity of 4K/8K ultra-high-definition visuals, and even the marvel of glass-free 3D. This promises a more vivid and true-to-life world than ever before. However, the foundation of this enhanced experience lies in advanced networks, with 5G at the forefront. Its implementation will not only catapult user experience to new heights but also unlock the full potential of data traffic.

5G doesn't stop at upgrading user experiences; it extends a fiber-like experience with Fixed Wireless Access (FWA). In places like Botswana, the 5G FWA solution delivers home broadband services with speeds reaching up to 75 Mbps. Coupled with unlimited data packages, this innovation is set to more than double APRU. Additionally, Huawei's FWA suite empowers operators to precisely target high-value home and enterprise customers, further enriching their offerings.

“With affordable Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) in tow, operators find themselves on a swift path towards bolstering their brand and cultivating a high-end user base. The pace of progress has accelerated, propelling them into a realm of newfound possibilities and potential.”

Sustainable Africa: Green Development Leading to Green Growth

In the pursuit of a sustainable Africa, “the call for green development echoes as a universal accord”. This resounding consensus was reaffirmed at the COP 27 conference in Egypt, where leaders emphasized the imperative to reduce emissions by 43% before 2030. Africa is resolutely treading the path of green development, exemplified by ambitious initiatives like the "Great Green Wall". Yet, it's crucial to recognize that green development isn't solely about combatting climate change; it's about forging a better life and fostering social progress.

Africa, undeniably, has taken significant strides towards building green infrastructure. Consider Mali, where numerous remote areas remain beyond the reach of conventional power grids. “In the past, operators relied on diesel generators to power their base stations. Now, thanks to Huawei's innovative green solution, these sites are powered entirely by renewable energy sources. This shift translates to a remarkable reduction of 10 tons of carbon emissions annually and a substantial cost saving of 20,000 euros per year in operating expenses,” Dr. Philip Song explained.

Simultaneously, this green solution extends its benefits to more rural areas, facilitating greater subscriber growth for operators. This holistic approach to sustainability not only safeguards the environment but also empowers communities, symbolizing a resounding step towards a sustainable and prosperous Africa.

Huawei's Digital Vision

As we look at the current landscape, it's evident that Africa is in the throes of a rapid evolution, transitioning from 3G to 4G and poised for the leap to 5G. In this dynamic era, “Huawei stands ready, hand in hand with operators, to not only expand the digital frontier but also cultivate greater digital value. Together, we aim to accelerate the digital transformation sweeping across the continent, unlocking the full potential of digital productivity.”

In a world fraught with uncertainty, one certainty remains the unrelenting progress of technology. With this steadfast pillar, we strive to navigate through the uncertainties that may come our way.

“Let us embark on this journey together, embracing the digital revolution. It's time to Go Digital, embrace 5G, and champion sustainability through the Go Green initiative. Together, we will labor to forge a digital Africa, a testament to our collective vision and determination,” Dr. Philip Song concluded.

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