According to a report by IT News Africa, MTN Zambia and Huawei have signed an agreement in order to facilitate the 5G network pilot program. MTN Zambia, the largest telecom in the country based on mobile subscribers, will also be one of the first telecoms in the region to deploy a 5G network. It is stated that 5G networks improve internet speeds up to 20Gps (Gigabytes of information per second). Science and Technology Minister Felix Mutati was also present for the launch of the program. MTN’s current internet speed is stated at 21Mbps, around 10Mbps above the country’s average.
What are the Benefits of 5G?
According to information from Speedtest, Zambia currently is ranked 122nd in the world for mobile internet speeds and 171st for fixed internet speeds. This is based on the median internet download speed a user is expected to have. 5G promises to multiply this download and internet access capacity by 100 bringing unprecedented progress to the country. During the unveiling ceremony MTN CEO Bart Hofkor said: ‘5G is the evolution of technology and it enables a new kind of network that is designed to connect virtually to everyone and everything, including machines, objects and devices. 5G is creating more opportunities for people all over the world and also in Zambia. Mr.Hofker explained that 5G presents fast connectivity, ultra-low latency and greater benefits, adding that it can help to create a smarter, safer and more sustainable future.’
So there is no doubt that this investment will likely bring a lot of benefits to the public. But what exactly is 5G? It is a topic which led to various misconceptions at the start of the pandemic when many questioned the safety of the transmissions. 5G as there was 4G before it, refers to the method of transmission used by network operators to transport information. This information relates to your wifi, phone calls and in general any wireless connection you can think of. In the early 1980’s, 1G allowed us to make analog voice calls for the first time. With each version, the greater the capacity of the information we can transmit at once. With the increased capacity, users can access more information on the internet for a significantly reduced cost and at lightning fast speeds. Currently only 14% of Zambians use non-social media websites, this is largely due to an inability to afford larger data bundles. Therefore in summary, 5G will make every item of technology that is connected to the internet faster while making connecting cheaper.
The MTN and Huawei Partnership
According to reports, the MTN and Huawei partnership reached its initial agreement in 2013, and Zambia has been selected to be among the first 10 African countries to be selected for the pilot program. The delivery of 5G was also one of the initial promises made by the new dawn government in their first 100 days of obligations.
Phil Li, the Vice President for Southern African Region was full of praise for both MTN and Zambia indicating the Chinese multinationals substantial interest in working in Zambia. He stated:
“We can bring more opportunities here and cooperate more with MTN Zambia to bring the latest technology to the people of Zambia. Huawei’s 5G anchors on Huawei’s vision to bring digital to every organization and place for a fully connected and intelligent world.This is not the first time we have cooperated with MTN Zambia, in 2013 we did 4G, 2016, we did 4.5 G and now 5G”
For a deeper understanding of the true capabilities of 5G networks it is advised you read further into recent development in the Internet of Things, small devices which are capable of communicating and recording specific information. This specifically has applications in manufacturing, agriculture and mining. The implementation of 5G technology is estimated to provide a further $13.5 trillion dollars to the global economy and a further 22 million jobs according to Qualcomm, a company attributed with helping invent the technology. The implementation of such technologies will be key to the future of the country.