On the sidelines of the UN Broadband Commission’s annual spring meeting in Kigali, we spoke to Eric Ekudden, Senior Vice President and CTO of the Ericsson Group.
F. What are the prospects for Africa’s mobile broadband connectivity?
A. The prospects are really very promising and good, not just from the tragic recent pandemic spent two years learning the importance of mobile broadband and the importance of connecting, whether it be for distance health or distance education or frankly to connect all of society.
The prospects and opportunities with mobile broadband, 4G technologies, 5G technologies are really great and will increase faster here in Africa than anywhere else in the world, mainly because the needs are very clear.
< p> Q. What are the key initiatives to bridge the digital divide in Africa.
A. The Broadband Commission is an initiative that has been in place since 10 years with one goal, broadband touts both universal connectivity and affordable To promote connectivity.
We want to promote the deployment and use of broadband technologies, this has a lot to do with making mainstream technologies such as 4G and 5G available, but also with creating an enabling environment around broadband and making sure the services are widely available.
We have a number of initiatives we are working on around education, Ericsson has a Connect to Learn activity, we are also working on it with the ITU on the Giga initiative which is about connecting all schools across the continent, we are also working to ensure the affordability of graduations, we are looking at how we can work with the healthcare sector.
We also come up with policy recommendations for governments to promote universal and affordable connectivity.
Q. What is the latest update on 5G rollout in Africa? What’s next?
A. 5G is the next technology to come after 4G, it’s a new technology around the world, starting here in Africa we’re seeing interest in upgrading 4G networks to 5G.
There are a number of African countries exploring proof-of-concepts and even testing early commercial services. In the next five years there will be fantastic uptake of 5G across Africa.
Why do you need 5G?
It offers a better user experience such as faster speeds for faster downloads, access, video experience, but 5G is really much more to connect society as a whole, whether it’s an SME, a school or government agencies, all will benefit from a powerful network.
5G really needs the next one Step, reliability, resilience and a service you can count on. All of these things are built into 5G.
When this becomes the new digital infrastructure of a country or continent, you can start innovating on top of 5G.
As I did education, health, agriculture, transportation, logistics, smart manufacturing, where 5G is helping to reduce energy consumption and reduce waste.
We have seen a lot of good evidence that 5G is now becoming this digital structure, of the digital infrastructure, of the digital platform, a country will have to digitize all its other sectors.
This is really a big change from the previous generations.
Q. What are the latest technologies Ericsson is using to support mobile financial services?
A. When it comes to financial services, Africa is mine According to leaders, that comes from mobile money experience pioneered in Africa t. We are a proud provider of the underlying infrastructure for mobile money and other services across Africa.
Q.Where the odds are now
A. Opportunities lie in healthcare, agriculture and education. These three sectors will undergo the same transformation that phones have undergone to smartphones. Now we have apps and cloud-based services.
It is a disruptive process from a technological and business model point of view, but it is a necessary and very important step that countries are going through.
F. How can we use connectivity to promote inclusion and access to education?
A. We can based on the technology available today, 4G and soon 5G , do a lot because this offers the lowest cost of connectivity. Our primary focus is to ensure we provide schools with connectivity as there are millions of schools that are not yet connected.
The next stage would be to push funding for the connectivity of these schools and then upgrade them with the latest connecting technologies such as 4G, 5G and in some cases satellite technologies.
We are also supporting with a learning pack through the smart Africa initiative to see how we can be a facilitator of new knowledge, be it about 5G , lots , machine learning, artificial intelligence, etc.