Huawei is a smartphone manufacturer best known for producing high-end releases and less on affordable midrange variants. But with the relevance of 4G in the current generation before 5G steps in, affordability serves as a big opportunity to drive fast adoption and migration to the network standard.
There are significant business opportunities in the mobile broadband space in building an ecosystem of affordable mobile devices to support user migration to 4G and 5G cellular network technology.
This was one of the key messages emerging from the 5th Huawei Africa Mobile broadband salon that took place at the online Africacom Africa Tech Festival from 9th-12th November in Johannesburg, SouthAfrica.
At the festival, Delegates confirmed the fact that the ICT industry had never been more important to society, than how it is today. ICT is at the forefront of social development and restoring economies affected by the current COVID-19 pandemic period.
“Connectivity is the foundation for digital transformation, It’s about time that we address mobile connectivity not just in terms of speed or capacity or coverage, but also in terms of ecosystem accessibility, affordability, convenience, and value.”said Salon facilitator Mohamed Madkour, Vice President, Carrier Business Marketing and Solutions for Huawei.
According to GSM, the number of 4G users in Africa is expected to triple in the next 5 years with an increase in the continent’s population from 55% today to 80% by 2025.
“Universal connectivity in Africa needs proactive collaboration from all stakeholders to develop profitable businesses and also encourage investment,”said Madkour
Roy Zheng, an overseas business development director for one of the semiconductor makers, inked that since the pandemic, the demand for education tablets has exploded.
To meet this demand, his company produces chipsets that enable the production of tablets priced from as low as $48 for all audience affordability.
So, with manufacturers registering new lows for 4G enabled devices, the affordability rate will attract more users to rely on the network band as a default for communication. Hence, manufacturers are key players in making 4G availability as common as the 3G band across the continent.
“We are able to provide chipsets for mobile phones priced from $31 which could be the ideal entry-level smartphones for 4G migration.”Said Zheng
Also speaking at the Salon, Lin Ranhao, CEO of smartphone and tablet maker Tele 1, inked that during the coming years, the fastest growth rate of the 4G user base will most likely to come from Africa.
At the moment, Africa has many 2G users awaiting a switch to 4G, but despite ready infrastructure by telecoms, the 4G penetration rate is still slow. Suggesting ways to resolve this, Ranhao drew an analogy with China, which encourages the production and purchase of electric vehicles through subsidies.
“If the conversion from 2G to 4G is such an urgent task for carriers, we should take a more proactive strategy, and drive this process through subsidies. After all, to bundle carrier plans with subsidized devices is common practice all over the world.”
In conclusion, Ranhao said that subsidy programs combined with competitively priced entry-level devices will lower the threshold for first-time smartphone buyers, accelerate 4G migration, and open vast business opportunities.
Henceforth, the increasing affordability of smartphones in Africa will soon become a key driver for wide 4G migration in Africa. Given the fact that telcos have laid out necessary infrastructure in countries where they operate, 4G remains a best to use network band promising the best transfer speeds before 5G is fully deployed on the continent.