(MAPUTO, 5 June 2023) The critical annual Africa Spectrum Roundtable, one of the continent’s most important spectrum events, took place in Maputo, Mozambique recently. The event brought together regulators, operators and spectrum industry leaders from all over Africa.
Jacob Munodawafa, Executive Secretary of the Southern Africa Telecommunications Association (SATA) gave an overview of the key spectrum opportunities and challenges for lobbying investment and improving mobile service levels. He also spoke about what SATA believes should be the spectrum short, medium and long term targets for the region.
Mr. Munodawafa thanked all those who participated in the roundtable and encouraged stakeholders to look at the best way forward for the delivery of a spectrum strategy that works for Africa.
Keynote opening: Mr. Yang Hongjie, Vice President of Huawei Sub-Saharan Africa ICT solution.
During the conference’s opening session, Mr. Yang, Vice President of Huawei Sub-Saharan Africa ICT Solution Department delivered a presentation titled “The unique potentials of Sub-3GHz to meet the realistic demand in the Africa region” in which he outlined Huawei’s latest spectrum concepts and unpacked successful digital transformation spectrum solutions.
“We experienced strong demand growth to improve the last-mile broadband infrastructure which bridges the digital divide between urban and rural areas. Sub-3GHz spectrum’s full utilisation will be the best way forward,” he added.
As Africa’s digital ship sails into the future, it will require a strong tailwind to propel it forward. Mr. Yang called for more favourable industrial spectrum policies in Africa in order to take full advantage of the Sub3-Ghz band.
Mr. Dick Sono, Chief Director: Radio Frequency Spectrum from South Africa’s Ministry of Communications and Digital Technologies shared the department’s best practice under the theme of “Mapping the potential evolution of the Sub-3GHz band in the Africa region”. Mr. Sono detailed South Africa’s achievements in the country’s progress towards the contribution of spectrum allocation to society for affordable, universal 4G mobile broadband and 4G FWA home broadband. Coverage for the South African population has improved, reaching over 98% with the full allocation of LTE FDD mid and low-band coverage, and boosting TDD band to uplift home broadband rates for households where there is no access to fibre.
Mr. Lui-S CUMAIO, National Communications Institute of Mozambique (INCM)
Regulation experts from Mozambique also shared successful case studies which have contributed to the country’s ICT development. Mr. Lui-S CUMAIO said there is pressing demand for spectrum in Sub-3GHz, the most urgent requirement for 4G capacity. Currently there is only universal coverage with low band spectrum.
INCM encourages operators to use 2.6 GHz as the dedicated spectrum with the most cost-effective 4G FWA for HBB service because of the low home broadband penetration rate in Mozambique.
Following the discussion, an agreement on a common initiative was released which includes:
- Full allocation of FDD (Frequency Division Duplex) Sub-3Ghz for affordable and universal mobile broadband towards closing the digital gap and fueling Africa’s digital future.
- Full utilisation of 2.3/2.6G TDD Bands for further mobile broadband improvement.
- Adoption of defragmentation practices with win-win cooperation between ISP’s/regional MNOs and large MNOs (Mobile Network Operators).
- Overall development of 4G/5G FWA in order to uplift overall national broadband penetration rates.
- Tax incentives and rebates, affordability considerations for both devices and services, digital literacy for rural and underserved areas.
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