Africa is in the advantageous position of being able to leapfrog earlier technologies and move straight to 5G, says Dr. Mohamed Madkour, vice-president of Wireless Networks Marketing & Solutions at Huawei Technologies.
Speaking at the ongoing International Telecommunication Union (ITU) summit in Durban, South Africa, Madkour said it is not difficult to talk about advanced technology development in Africa.
“We can talk about 5G and AI (artificial intelligence) in Africa – this is the time to prepare for 5G. He described Huawei’s Rural Star solution for bringing wireless connectivity to rural areas,” he told delegates.
He added that 5G has the potential to provide hope of every African person to live safer, happier and wealthier lives.
“The hope of every country to eradicate poverty and grow their economy. We need to harness the power of technology and collaboration to make this happen. Mobility and broadband can make the economy grow.”
But how can we make this happened, asked Madkour at the ITU’s ICT Ministerial Forum 2018.
He said Africa is a land of opportunities and of young, passionate people.
“But half of the population is not covered by mobile connectivity, although the things that can help any economy fly are mobility and broadband,” he added. “These are at the heart of the economic advancement of every country.”
For Africa to to achieve universal coverage, there are key gaps that need to be closed.
“There is a gap between demand and revenue that is driven by affordability, services, literacy, subscriptions, content, experience and value. Between supply and cost, the gap is caused by spectrum, power, sites, policy, infrastructure, investment and transmission issues,” he said.
Dr. Madkour said collaboration is key for Africa to leapfrog earlier technologies and move straight to 5G, and the industry needs to transform.
He added that carriers need to get out of their comfort zone and look beyond the consumer.
“Vendors need to deliver solution agility, with solutions that can be replicated in an automated and efficient way; investment entities need to have the courage to come to Africa; and governments need to take responsibility for orchestrating the whole environment.”
He cited Huawei’s RuralStar as a rich solution that brings coverage to underserved areas.
Huawei come up with an innovative site solution, known as RuralStar, which can minimize the TCO of communication site deployment and operation.
In this solution, low-band LTE Relay offers a substitute for costly traditional satellite transmission or microwave transmission which needs direct line of sight between sites.
The power consumption is also reduced, with six solar panels providing sufficient energy requirements for one site. For the coverage of the typical village with population from 2, 000 to 5, 000, the ROI can be reduced to 2-3 years compare with the traditional solution (generally it takes 8 to 10 years).
The RuralStar solution also lowers costs due to its easy-to-deploy feature. RuralStar, deployment takes less than 1 week, which is 75% less compared with deployment of traditional base stations, whose deployment period is usually a month.
The RuralStar solution is lighting up the world, connecting millions of people, and it is has been deployed in more than 40 countries, such as South Africa, Nigeria, Norway, Indonesia, New Zealand and Argentina.
“It is a simple solution for communities and that is what’s needed in these environments. It lets us get to universal services with universal coverage,” said Madkour, adding that this cab create better future and assist to eradicate poverty and empower people.