Barcelona– The Middle East and Africa (MEA) is expected to have 30m 5G subscriptions for enhanced mobile broadband by the end of 2024, representing 2% of total mobile subscriptions in the region.
This will make 5G the fastest generation of cellular technology to be rolled out on a global scale, according to the new MEA edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report.
The key drivers for 5G deployment include high network capacity, lower cost per gigabyte, and new use case requirements. The majority of the 5G subscriptions in the MEA are expected to come from advanced ICT markets, like the GCC countries Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Qatar, while in Africa, considerable momentum is building up in South Africa.
In terms of mobile data traffic, the region is globally the highest with nine times growth forecast (1.8 to 15.4EB/month from 2018 to 2024) and mobile broadband subscriptions to double (860 to 1,630m from 2018 to 2024).
The MEA region’s telecom market is characterised by increasing uptake of LTE and there is a high usage of apps. Therefore, significant growth is expected in data consumption together with large mobile broadband subscription addition.
Economic recovery to drive investment in ICT
Economies in the Middle East and North Africa have shown signs of recovery in 2018 and are expected to grow by 3.9% in 2019 as oil exporters benefit from the improved outlook for oil prices.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, the gross domestic product (GDP) growth is expected to show a similar upward trend, supported by rising commodity prices and improvement of the investment environment in large economies, such as Nigeria and South Africa.
Continued economic growth in the region, coupled with a young population, favourable policies and lower cost devices will drive investment in the telecom sector, increasing uptake of ICT services.
Demand for high-speed networks LTE subscriptions will have the highest growth at 23% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) between 2018 and 2022, driven by increased mobile communications service provider investment in 4G networks as well as rising usage of data-intensive mobile services in the region.
The combination of increasing usage of mobile video applications on higher resolution screens and better network throughputs will lead to a rise in the data traffic per active smartphone from 2.9GB per month in 2018 to 15GB per month in 2024, a CAGR of around 30%.
The first wave of 5G introduction in MEA targets the FWA segment where operators utilise it as an alternative to fibre, with quick time to market, as well as being an additional revenue stream. However, for the full 5G potential, large-scale rollout and to achieve long-term success, two main areas need to be addressed, namely spectrum availability and use case development.
The Head of Ericsson Middle East and Africa, Rafiah Ibrahim, said: “With connectivity at the heart of industry transformation, cellular technologies have a significant role to play – not just in the evolution of communication, but in the transformation of businesses and societies. As 5G now hits the market, its coverage build-out and uptake in subscriptions is expected to be faster than for previous generations. At the same time, cellular IoT continues to grow strongly. As networks mature and ecosystems evolve, service providers need to become increasingly agile to achieve the goal of profitable growth.”