By Adedapo Adesanya
Vodacom Tanzania Plc has launched Tanzania’s first 5G network in what promises to be a transformational development in the country’s digital journey.
The company’s Acting Managing Director, Ms Hilda Bujiku, launched the 5G technology service in the presence of the Minister of Information, Communications and Information Technology, Nape Nnauye, in Dar es Salaam on Thursday.
According to Ms Bujiku, the 5G service rollout will start with the establishment of over 200 5G sites in Tanzania’s regions such as Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Dodoma, Mwanza, Iringa, Kagera, Njombe, and also Zanzibar, among other areas by November 2022.
“We promise to continue using technology to improve the lives of Tanzanians and lead the digital transformation. As we launch 5G, we plan to reach 90 per cent of Tanzanians with 3G and 45 by 2024,” she added.
While addressing the audience, Mr Andrew Lupembe, Director of Network at Vodacom Tanzania, provided context on why the network operator launched the 5G technology instead of enhancing 4G in the country.
According to him, the launch of 5G means businesses should look forward to the great transformation such as the internet of things, artificial intelligence, and remote access to Healthcare, among other great rewards in sectors such as education, transportation, and tourism.
He noted that; “4G is good, but due to community demands, there was a need for higher technology with low latency, hence 5G. It will address a lot of challenges in Tanzania.”
Recently, MTN Nigeria Communications Plc, a subsidiary of MTN Group Limited, also launched 5G network service in select cities in Nigeria.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had given MTN Nigeria Communications Limited and Mafab Communications Limited the 5G license but Mafab sought an exemption from the rollout plan citing technical reasons.
African Fintech Targets 800% Revenue Growth by 2025—McKinsey
By Adedapo Adesanya
Revenues from financial technology (fintech) companies could grow by 800 per cent to reach $30 billion by 2025, consultancy firm McKinsey & Company has revealed.
As the fastest-growing start-up industry on the continent, African fintech raised over $1,3 billion in 2021 alone; the success of fintech companies is being fuelled by several trends, including increasing smartphone ownership, declining internet costs, expanded network coverage, and a young, fast-growing, and rapidly urbanizing population.
African fintech has a significant impact on day-to-day life on the continent, and with its current upward trend, it can be perfectly poised to rapidly advance Africa’s global competitiveness with an increase in the exporting of fintech services globally.
However, it said these fertile grounds do have challenges. Regulatory uncertainties and differences between countries are a bottleneck, throttling the expansion of financial inclusion in Africa. This has led to the continent’s fintech’s calling for a Pan-African regulatory body to define comprehensive regulatory policies for regions rather than countries.
Certain governments and the private business sector continuously work on providing regulatory policy frameworks for businesses, customers, and economies with the current focus on regulations, anti-money laundering scrutiny, consumer centrism, and protection of privacy and security of data.
In terms of regulations, digital-only banks and fintech are influenced by but independently regulated from the traditional financial system regulations.
For Anti Money Laundering Scrutiny, more regulatory bodies are insisting on compliance herewith; worldwide, there is a clampdown on non-compliant companies. This requires the verification of information received from the client to avoid fraudulent, terrorist, or other illegal activities being facilitated, supported by other processes such as Know Your Customer.
Also, fintech must be vigilant in consumer education, especially the consequences of services and products that did not exist before, protecting the consumer from being exploited.
For the protection of privacy and security of data, it warned that stored personal consumer information is susceptible to cyberattacks, and as a result, fintech companies must comply and have the necessary security systems and protocols to secure sensitive data.
The Global fintech Index of 2020 lists the top 100 fintech ecosystems, and four sub-Saharan African cities features, that are leading this sector, namely Johannesburg, Nairobi, Lagos, and Cape Town, and account for most of the continent’s fintech start-up funding.
“The countries represented by the four cities above have taken significant strides towards regulatory systems designed to protect stakeholders. Each country’s approach to regulations shares similarities, while others are unique to the challenges faced in their market.
“Regardless of the size of the fintech, these changes become prohibitive to the success of fintech due to the cost and/or inconvenience caused since they impact all areas of the customer relationship lifecycle,” it said.
Nigeria’s Telecommunications Sector has Attracted $70bn Investments—NCC
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Mr Umar Danbatta, has disclosed that the country’s telecommunications sector has attracted about $70 billion in investments.
In his keynote address delivered at a two-day International Conference of the Association of Media and Communication Researchers of Nigeria (AMCRON), the NCC chief described the industry as a critical component of the economy.
He also said these huge investments were made possible through the implementation of policies designed by the government to create enabling environment for stakeholders.
Speaking on the theme Influence of Communication Policies on Digital Revolution in Nigeria, Mr Danbatta stated that communication policies are essentially blueprints and strategies, marked by plans for the development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in a way that nudges people to harness opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution through the embrace of digital culture across sectors by individual, businesses and institutions.
According to him, this diligent implementation of various telecommunications policies, strategies and regulatory frameworks has continued to enhance the nation’s capacity to deepen citizens’ access to digital resources, transformed media and knowledge production and positively impacted Nigeria’s economic and social progress.
The NCC boss, represented by the agency’s Director of Research and Development, Mr Ismail Adedigba, while tracing the trajectory of growth in the telecoms industry from 1960 till date, said the past decades had witnessed formulation of various policies and laws for developing the industry, but remarkable growth in the sector started after the sector’s liberalization in 2001.
He said through diligent implementation of policies, vision plans and strategic regulatory frameworks by the NCC, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders in the industry, there is increased access to digital services, and the media industry is being shaped in terms of patterns of information dissemination through multiple platforms while the digital revolution has revealed a new vista of research areas for scholars in the field of mass communication.
“Today, the active telecom subscribers have grown significantly to 212.2 million from about 400,000 aggregate telephone lines in the country as of 2000, on the eve of liberalisation. This represents a teledensity of 111 per cent. Basic Internet subscriptions grew from zero ground to 152.7 million now, while broadband subscriptions stand at over 86 million, representing a 45.09 per cent penetration as of July 2022.
“The industry has also become a major contributor to our national economy, with the ICT industry contributing 18.94 per cent to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as of the second quarter of 2022, according to the latest data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). From this, the telecommunications sector alone contributed 15 per cent to GDP.
“The ICT contribution to GDP is, by far, the second largest contributor to the national economy aside from the agriculture sector. From less than $500 million investment in 2001, the investment profile in the nation’s telecommunications sector has also surpassed $70 billion. The telecommunication sector has also created direct and indirect jobs for millions of Nigerians to date,” Danbatta said in his keynote speech,” he said.
Mr Danbatta expressed hope that just as the liberalisation policies have worked quantifiably for Nigeria’s progress, yielding exponential results, the commission is committed to the implementation of the various extant economic recovery plans, digital economy policies, the national broadband plan as well as strategic management plans which have been streamlined in NCC Strategic Vision Plans.
The EVC promised that the NCC would continue to ensure more quantum leaps and retain its current leadership role in the telecommunications space to lead Nigeria into the next level of development.
“To achieve this, the NCC will continue to strengthen collaboration with the media professionals and communication research-focused bodies such as AMCRON, towards creating an environment where stakeholders can leverage digital infrastructure to achieve greater efficiency in what they do,” he said.
UN Tasks Africa on Internet Infrastructure for Inclusive, Sustainable Growth
By Adedapo Adesanya
The United Nations has urged African countries to invest in building resilient internet infrastructure to tap digital opportunities and accelerate social and economic transformation on the continent.
This is as global leaders attending the 17th Internet Governance Forum being held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, underscored the importance of digital technologies as tools for enhancing development across Africa.
The UN Secretary-General, Mr Antonio Guterres, told participants that while digital technologies were transforming lives and livelihoods, they were outpacing regulations and exacerbating inequalities around the world.
He called for a human-centred digital future based on a resilient internet that is open, inclusive, and secure for all, in line with his proposed Global Digital Compact. The proposed Global Digital Compact aims to deliver universal connectivity, close the digital divide and reach the millions of people who are not connected to the internet.
“The safe, secure human-centred digital space begins with the protection of free speech, freedom of expression, and the right to online autonomy and privacy,” said Mr Guterres, emphasizing that governments, private companies, and social media platforms have a responsibility to prevent online bullying and misinformation that undermines democracy, human rights, and science.
“We need to work for a safe, equitable, and open digital future that does not infringe on the privacy or dignity,” Mr Guterres urged.
On his part, the Acting Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Antonio Pedro, said reducing the digital divide is essential to building new pathways for rapid economic growth, innovation, job creation, and access to services in Africa.
“Harmonizing regulations to remove barriers to connectivity both within African nations and across the continent is crucial,” said Mr Pedro, explaining that harmonized regulations will facilitate the operationalization of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The AfCFTA is key to Africa’s food and energy security and fosters competitiveness through economies of scale and improved market access.
Statistics show that an estimated 871 million people are not connected to the internet in Africa, and access is even limited in rural areas. Though 70 per cent of Africa’s population technically has access to mobile internet, less than 25 per cent are making use of the internet due to the high cost of mobile internet across the region, Mr Pedro noted.
“The lack of digital and literacy skills is another key barrier to achieving digital inclusion,” said Mr Pedro, adding that “These skills gaps have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, where the expansion of online education, e-healthcare, e-commerce, and remote work, have left a large portion of the population without internet access even further behind.”
He said the need for meaningful digital connectivity to boost sustainable development, particularly for the Least Developing Countries (LDCs), has never been more urgent. Despite this, Africa has made some progress in promoting digital access.
“Now is the time to double down on our effort to close the digital infrastructure gap and to leverage digital technologies to power key initiatives in support of achieving a greener and more inclusive digital world and a just and sustainable development for all, “said Mr Pedro, remarking that a multi-sectoral approach in realizing a resilient and unfragmented internet in Africa was key.
“The implementation of digital technologies should progressively and continually mirror key principles of inclusion, representation and accessibility… Private sector involvement in spurring digital development, specifically infrastructure development, will leapfrog socio-economic development,” Mr Pedro underscored.
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