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Telecommunications network will promote Africa's development

         Date: 2012-03-15

           Tag: Africa development, Telecommunications network

Summary: Last year, it was revealed that Africa is the fastest growing telecoms market and, with 649million connections, is the second-largest region in the world, according to the Global System for Mobile A…

Last year, it was revealed that Africa is the fastest growing telecoms market and, with 649million connections, is the second-largest region in the world, according to the Global System for Mobile Association.It also estimates that Africa's subscribers will reach 735million by the end of this year.

More broadband access in Africa will help develop the continent economically and can create jobs, said Hans Vestberg, CEO of Ericsson.

''For every 10% broadband penetration you get on average 1% GDP growth in the country," said Vestberg, citing research collated by Ericsson from 124 different studies.

''For every 1000 broadband connections you get 80 new nett jobs. There are jobs going away [due to] efficiency, but you are also creating jobs," he said.

Vestberg's visit follows the visit of another global CEO, Stephen Elop of Nokia, last month. Both men were upbeat about the possibilities connectivity and mobile broadband offer for growth and innovation and demonstrated that African telecoms is clearly on the radar for global players.

Africa has ''somewhat lower mobile penetration than other regions, but we have great potential for mobile broadband using this infrastructure for transforming business and society", said Vestberg.

The question is how to do it and what models will work with the diverse challenges in Africa.

A flat fee will not work because most users can't afford it. However, African telecoms has reached the point where segmenting users has happened and innovation in business models will enable better pricing and therefore access, he said.

Ericsson is the largest maker of equipment used in telecommunications networks, and handles more than 40% of world mobile traffic.Africa has been through ''huge transformation" in the last few years, and has a similar pace to that of the explosive growth in Europe during its early boom years.

Part of the success is due to standards in the telecoms industry.Additionally, this global scale of handset manufacturing means that Africa has benefited with cheaper handsets.

South Africa specifically has seen major changes.

''The operators here have invested a lot in mobility and mobile broadband. There are a lot of good initiatives to really capture the benefits of ICT here," Vestberg said.Ericsson is also building a metro network for the city of Johannesburg, aimed at increasing broadband access in the city.

Research has shown people now spend 26% of their time on mobile phones making calls, as opposed to 90% five years ago, Vestberg said.There are one billion mobile broadband subscribers in the world, which could grow to roughly five billion by 2016, he said.


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