Africa’s telecoms challenges require some creative solutions

Published: 8 March 2020 - 12:21 p.m.

Key Partnerships across the region

“We’ve had an excellent start to the year and made some really exciting announcements. Not only have we upgraded our service assurance platform, Helix, to bring new insights and automation to the next generation of wireless connectivity; we’ve also released numerous partnerships with operators across Europe and Africa.

“In the African market, we have renewed our 20-year strong relationship with MTN Group, the largest mobile operator in Africa, to standardise its radio and microwave network planning tools. Our ASSET solution will be deployed across MTN’s subsidiary networks that span 18 different countries across Africa and the Middle East.

“In the past, MTN faced operational challenges in collecting consistent and accurate network data from diverse countries, ranging from South Africa and Nigeria, to Yemen and Afghanistan. By deploying a standardised set of tools, like TEOCO’s ASSET portfolio, MTN now has a much better view of the reality in each country, which will in turn help focus CAPEX investments for maximum impact. This deployment will deliver significant economies of scale and a differentiated customer and mobile network experience to all of MTN’s subscribers.

“Along with MTN, we have also announced a number of operator partnerships in Europe including Magenta Telekom, WINDTre and Swisscom. This is an exciting start to the year for our company, and we hope we can continue this momentum throughout the rest of the year.”

Challenges in the African market

“Telecoms in Africa is an interesting but challenging market. There’s political instability, policy uncertainty and a growing trend towards higher taxes and regulatory costs. These challenges require creative solutions and suppliers on the ground that truly understand the market and how it is evolving.

“Nevertheless, while there are some hurdles to overcome, there are many opportunities across the continent to celebrate. Africa has a young and fast-growing population, hungry for new services; it also has economies which are largely cash-based, which presents opportunities for mobile money and other fintech offerings. The continent also continues to have a huge rural population, meaning there is still a significant opportunity for operators to grow ARPU in certain countries.”

Africa’s IoT revolution

“Every technology innovation gives individuals, businesses and institutions the tools to enable personal transformations, connectivity, productivity and efficiency - and IoT will be no different.

“With IoT, governments, businesses and operators can leverage devices and machines to achieve results that would have previously be unattainable. This can range from assured machine efficiency on factory floors and energy savings in buildings, to guaranteed crop harvesting from a plot, and delivering enhanced emergency services.

“Across the world, IoT is impacting nearly every industry, including agriculture, health and medicine, logistics, infrastructure, manufacturing, to name a few. But while there are obvious differences between these verticals, they have at least three things in common that are needed to be successful: 1) sensors to measure, 2) telecommunications to transfer the measurements and, 3) context to provide meaning.

“Without a functioning sensor, nothing can be measured. Without available communications, nothing is transmitted. Without the ability to apply context, nothing is fully understood or acted upon. For the IoT to deliver true value – to the farmer, to the hospital, to the manufacturer, and so on – all three corners of the IoT triangle must function and work together.”

Improving the lives of everyday people in Africa?

While many operators around the world are spending their time and investment on 5G, there are still large percentages of subscribers who are without mobile internet. In fact, the GSMA’s Mobile Internet Connectivity for 2019 report documented that mobile internet adoption is currently standing at 24 per cent in Sub-Saharan Africa. The region also accounts for 40 per cent of the global population not covered by a mobile network.

Today, many subscribers are still digitally excluded, it needs to be our industry’s top priority to put the right infrastructure and solutions in place to help bring subscribers into the digital economy. Connectivity can provide subscribers with access to new services that would have once been unattainable, providing them with a better quality of life.

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