Getting Africa connected at AfriCom

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With Africa being the region with the highest growth rate in mobile data traffic, more than 300 high tech companies across the world had a real incentive to come to AfricaCom in Cape Town and showcase their networking and connectivity solutions.

AfricaCom is the continent’s leading platform for networking, business development and showcasing within the telecoms, ICT and digital landscape. The conference gathers key influencers who are working on tackling the barriers to connectivity in Africa. According to the Ericsson Sub-Saharan Africa Mobility Report, unpacked at AfricaCom 2016, Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest growth rate of mobile subscriptions of any region on the globe. Africa’s reliance on mobile technology, as opposed to fixed-line technology, is a key factor behind the rapid growth of mobile subscriptions.

There was a lot of talk about 5G at the conference. The Nokia booth displayed the company’s IoT solutions, promoting the company’s commitment to 5G as the only technology with the capacity, connectivity and low latency to enable advanced IoT applications. Such high-speed wireless connections will require formidable physical fibre infrastructures. The International Telecommunications Union’s “Trends in Telecommunication Reform 2016” report notes that capital investments related to fibre infrastructure are expected to surpass US$144.2B between 2014 and 2019.

In another development, Chinese multinational telecommunications equipment and systems firm, ZTE, announced at AfricaCom that South Africa will be the first country in Africa where its Pre5G will be rolled out. Pre5G test runs will be done over three years with a full rollout planned for 2020.

The IoT & Smart Cities track on Day 2 featured a session on The Roadmap to Smart Cape Town with presentations by Rudy Abrahams, SAP-ERP Support Centre Manager at the City of Cape Town, Simon Carpenter, Chief Technology Officer at SAP on SAP’s projects with the City of Cape Town, and Wolf Stinnes, Chief Solutions Architect responsible for Smart Cities and Internet of Things at Dimension Data MEA. The City of Cape Town implemented a SAP-ERP system early in 2003 and has implemented several smart city solutions, one of them a fibre optic network that will connect 600 buildings and 1300km of fibre by 2021.

All operators are looking to provide faster, comprehensive connections to Africa and the award for Most Significant LTE development was awarded jointly to Huawei and MTC, a telecom operator in Namibia, for the introduction of LTE and 4.5G in Namibia.

World Telecom Labs (WTL) was named as the winner in the Best Connectivity Solution for Africa category for its Vivada (Village Voice and Data) system that provides connectivity in rural, urban, and under-served areas in Africa.