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'Full 3G/4G coverage in sub-Saharan Africa only after 2020'

‘Full 3G/4G coverage in sub-Saharan Africa only after 2020’

The sub-Saharan Africa region can only expect full 3G/4G network coverage post-2020, according to an official from Ericsson.

According to the GSM Association (GSMA) sub-Saharan Africa is made up of 47 diverse countries with a combined population of over 830 million.

Omasan Ogisi, head of sustainability and corporate responsibility for Ericsson sub-Saharan Africa told ITWeb Africa that although the region is the slowest globally to achieve full 3G/4G coverage, it will continue to grow.

In 2012 a research report by the GSMA and Deloitte found that sub-Saharan Africa only had 3G networks in some 30 countries.

However, technology communications firm Ericsson expects 3G connections to reach 440 million and 4G connections to reach 36 million in sub-Saharan Africa by 2019.

Ericsson's Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility Report 2014 has also predicted that 85% of growth in 3G and 4G connectivity will be in Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa.

Commenting on the report Ogisi explained that access to 3G/4G smartphones have been a limitation in sub-Saharan Africa, due to low income levels in the region, which in turn has slowed immediate demand for high speed data services.

"Operators and smartphone vendors are increasingly investing in pushing lower priced devices into the market, with $30 - $40 levels at the moment.

She added, "Smartphones are becoming increasingly affordable. This means people in regions with low levels of internet penetration, such as sub-Saharan Africa, will be able to take advantage of full connectivity for the first time via their smartphones."

According to Ogisi LTE subscriptions will also continue to grow due to the increasing number of connected enterprises and consumers' growing need for speed and reliability in their network.

Nigeria, South Africa and Angola are expected to have the most LTE subscriptions in the region between 2013 and 2019, she told ITWeb Africa.

Despite the findings in the report it has been revealed that many parts of the continent still rely on 2G networks for connections.

Ogisi noted that the region will continue to have GSM networks as the main technology for coverage in sub-Saharan Africa, and will cover the 80% of the region by 2019.

But 3G connections will however have risen, having surpassed 2G connections by 2019, she told ITWeb Africa.

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