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The 5G Opportunity for Nigeria

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By: Eniola Campbell

There has been a lot of talk about 5G, but the reality is that in Africa, many operators are still focusing on 4G to get the most return on investment from the networks. Is this the case in Nigeria?

The 5G Opportunity for Nigeria

Eniola Campbell, Country Senior Officer and CBT Head for Nigeria at Nokia

Yes, in Nigeria this is still the case. According to the GSMA, operators in Nigeria have managed to achieve 45% 4G coverage since the launch of the first 4G network in 2016.

This increased 4G coverage has already resulted in improved network download and upload speeds and lower latencies as operators continue to roll out 4G in cities. There are several reasons why the market is lagging in 5G adoption, including cost of infrastructure roll-out, smart phone penetration and affordability.

According to Global Monitor, the Nigeria Telecom Market is expected to continue seeing strong growth over the next 4 – 5 years.

This is mainly due to increased urbanization and the slowly rising adoption of mobile phones that support 3G, 4G and 5G services.

Global Monitor further expects that all the remaining major 2G/3G platforms will be closed by the end of 2025 and forecasts that by 2029 most mobile connections will be on 5G. This is also in support of Nigeria’s 2020-2025 National Broadband Plan, which has set very ambitious targets for Nigerian CSPs.

5G holds a lot of promise for the world, but it requires a huge investment to attain nationwide 5G coverage.

This coupled with the economic impact of COVID-19 in Nigeria will impact the investment case for 5G in Nigeria and the rest of Africa in the short term, thus 3G will remain a viable option due to the lower adoption rate of 4G and the need to have a fallback strategy for rural areas.

Recent developments, however, have seen a big push toward making 5G a reality for the country.

Spectrum for 5G is set to be auctioned in the last quarter of the year and the Federal Government hopes that urban centres in Nigeria will have been 5G enabled by 2025. The Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) has also submitted a 5G Development Plan (5GDP) to Federal Government for final approval, paving the way for increased momentum in rolling out 5G.

What are some of the key inhibitors in building 4G networks and ultimately making the shift to 5G?

The key inhibitors in building 4G networks include right of way for fiber deployment, the cost associated with network upgrades and limited, albeit growing, smart phone penetration in the market.

These elements will ultimately affect 5G introduction. In addition, the 5G spectrum in Nigeria is still being defined and needs to be allocated in enough contiguous spectrum to allow the value of 5G to be realized in the mid to low frequency bands.

At the beginning of May, the Nigerian Communications Commission did, however, sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with NigcomSat, around the use of C-Band spectrum for 5G services, showing a commitment to fast-tracking the roll out of the technology. The Commission highlighted the possibilities that 5G will bring to the economy, including higher connection speeds, mobility, and capacity, as well as low latency capabilities.

What are some of the biggest trends you see in 4G adoption?

There are several big trends that are driving 4G adoption currently. These include continued remote working policies due to COVID-19, an increased use in social media platforms, video-on-demand and streaming services, and eLearning. These have positively impacted 4G adoption and increased demand. On the downside, 4G enables the use of voice-over-IP (VoIP), which becomes a substitute to voice services offered by communications service providers, and this has led to a decline in voice revenue for operators in Nigeria.

How ready is the country to adopt 5G and what are some of the interesting discussions that are emerging around it?

Nigerian market is ripe for 5G adoption. We have already seen commitments by the Ministry for Communication and Digital Economy and the Nigerian Communications Commission through the National Broadband Plan, and the MOU signed with NigcomSat to prioritise pervasive broadband and speed up 5G roll out plans. There is a segment of society, the early adopters, that will see a lot of value with the enhanced mobile broadband and ultra-low latency use cases that 5G will enable. Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) for home broadband users is a key trend that would drive 5G adoption in Nigeria.

Which industries in Nigeria do you foresee will be early adopters of 5G and what are some of the use cases you expect to see emerging?

5G as a technology will enable high download speeds and low-latency applications. These are important for remote learning, media, medical, public safety (citywide surveillance) and manufacturing industries. We believe the early adopters will majorly be the media industry especially streaming and video-on-demand service providers.5G will also be a key driver in developing smart cities in Nigeria as it provides a high-performance network foundation and robust city-grade platforms to bring together the intelligence within smart city applications and services to fuel economic and social growth in cities.

What are some of the most recent enhancements that Nokia has made to its product portfolio?

Nokia recently announced some enhancements to our mobile network portfolio that will enable CSPs to offer superior services to their subscribers while lowering their overall total cost of ownership. Some of these include the industries lightest 32×32 TRX massive MIMO radio at 17kg, O-RAN support of RF products and the widest Instantaneous Bandwidth (IBW) of 400 MHz in the market. It also includes high-capacity baseband called ABIO that supports 90,000 connected users.

To reduce time to rollout, while ensuring optimal performance of cell sites, we have introduced Nokia Digital Deploy and best-in-class 5G/NR RF planning and optimization services and tools.

From a transport infrastructure perspective, Nokia’s integrated IP/optical solution combines high performance 7750 Service Routers with high capacity 1830 Photonic Service Switches and network automation improve response times. It also reduces service delivery times so that customers can always operate at full speed, growing and scaling up connectivity as needed.

Our optical portfolio is powered by Nokia in-house, advanced chipsets (Photonic Service Engine) that can transmit high-capacity optical signals of up to 800 Gbps over long distances. Nokia’s industry-leading edge routing portfolio provides the scale, performance, and extensive service capabilities that our customers need to keep pace with evolving network demands. Featuring the breakthrough in-house-designed router silicon innovations, our proven Service Router Operating System (SR OS) enables software and multi-vendor systems integration capabilities.

To address the rising demand for home broadband, the Nokia GPON, XGS and 25G PON products are powered by the Nokia Quillion chipset to enhance capacity and performance of the network. In addition, Nokia Fixed Wireless Access products, Nokia Residential Gateway and Indoor CPE have been designed for optimal performance to unlock value to home broadband customers in a secure manner.

The complexity of modern networks has introduced new security requirements and to address this Nokia has released NetGuard XDR Security Operations to extended detection and response (XDR), which natively integrates multiple security products into a cohesive security operations system. XDR provides overarching security lifecycle management that orchestrates and automates risk and threat prediction, detection, and response, with threat intelligence tailored to a CSP’s unique requirements.

– Campbell is Country Senior Officer and CBT Head for Nigeria at Nokia

 


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NCC, FintechNGR Renew Commitment to Deepen Nigeria’s Fintech Sector

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Following recent engagements with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Governing Council of FintechNGR, led by the President, Ade Bajomo, engaged with Dr Aminu Maida, Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), and his management team.

This meeting aimed to deepen the role of the telecommunications sector as a crucial enabler of fintech in Nigeria.

The engagement addressed the critical issue of connectivity and investment in public infrastructure, emphasizing the need for improved connectivity to support essential services such as schools, airports, fire services, police stations, and parks, thereby enhancing timely emergency response.

Ade Bajomo highlighted the inclusive nature of FintechNGR as a strength that regulators should leverage to develop robust policies and regulatory frameworks. He underscored the importance of harnessing Nigeria’s natural resources, particularly lithium, to power base stations and reduce operating costs for telecommunications players.

“Leveraging alternative energy sources built on lithium batteries will greatly enhance connectivity, facilitate efficiency, and drive environmental sustainability,” said Bajomo. He proposed a public-private collaboration to develop these mineral resources.

Dr Aminu Maida responded by emphasizing the need for Nigeria to build internal capacity for creating mobile devices. He noted that approximately 57% of mobile phones in Nigeria still operate on 2G networks, which do not provide broadband speed for users, and that the Commission is working with the industry and other cross-sectors to advance user transition to newer technologies such as 5G.

He stressed the importance of FintechNGR working with regulators to facilitate the maturity of fintechs through corporate governance empowerment, training, and mentorship. Dr. Maida also highlighted the need for a coordinated approach to combating fraud and cybersecurity threats in the financial sector.

“Deepening partnerships between fintechs, financial services providers, and the telecoms sector through collaboration will significantly strengthen innovation in Nigeria,” he said.

The NCC noted that it will work with FintechNGR to enrich the activities of the Regulators Forum—a forum of regulators and innovators in Nigeria that aims to balance regulation and innovation—to facilitate a more impactful Nigeria Fintech Week and leverage the Association as a valuable resource in future regulatory and policy development initiatives.


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17 Ijesha Digital Hub Graduands Secure Job Placements after Inaugural Training Program

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The Ijesha Digital Hub has announced that 17 graduates from its first cohort are to receive job offers following their successful completion of the training program.

Some of the Ijesha Digital Hub cohort 1 graduants flanked by dignitaries at the ceremony

This significant milestone was announced to the ecstatic graduates and the huge crowd that had gathered to witness the historic event by the Keynote speaker and member of the Board of Trustees of Ijesa Global Alliance for Development (IGAD), esteemed industry leader Sir Aladekomo, chairman of SmartCity Resorts Plc and founder of Chams Plc..

The graduation ceremony celebrated the achievements of 48 trainees who completed intensive training in various digital disciplines: 10 in UI/UX Design, 23 in Cybersecurity, and 15 in Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning.

These graduates are now equipped with cutting-edge skills and knowledge and recognized professional certificates in their respective digital domains ready to embark on their professional journeys.

In a press statement, Dr. Cornelius Adewale, executive director of Ijesha Global Alliance for Development (IGAD), remarked, “The immediate job opportunities for our trainees are a testament to the hub’s commitment to providing skills development training today so that participants can build tomorrow.

“We are proud of the engagement framework, training delivery, monitoring mechanism, and effective assessment we have developed. This initiative has the potential to transform Nigeria into a digital economy powerhouse.”

Prince Abimbola Olashore, chairman of IGAD, added, “The success of the first cohort of Ijesha Digital Hub underscores the significant role that targeted training programs play in addressing the skills gap in the Nigerian tech industry.

“The job placements of these graduates not only validate the quality of the training provided but also highlight the growing demand for skilled professionals in UI/UX Design, Cybersecurity, and Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning.”

Dr. Adewale Alonge, vice president of IGAD, also emphasized the broader impact of this achievement, stating, “This milestone demonstrates the effectiveness of our comprehensive training approach and the dedication of our trainees.

“By equipping them with relevant skills, we are not only empowering individuals but also contributing to the overall growth and development of the tech sector in Nigeria.”

Dr. Alonge noted that the achievement of the mission of the Hub would not have been possible without the dedication, commitment and leadership of the domain leaders, Dr: Adewale Obadare, Chief Visionary Officer, Digital Encode, for Cybersecurity, assisted by Mr. Tunji Igbalajobi, Mr. Ebenezer Ajayi (AI/ Machine Learning), Mr. Femi Bakare (UI/UX Design) and their team of mentors and instructors.

The event was chaired by Asiwaju Yinka Fasuyi, the esteemed Asiwaju of Ijeshaland, who delivered remarks celebrating the achievements of the graduates and the impact of the Innovation Hub on the local community and beyond.

The 48 graduates have achieved a minimum of one professional certificate (some have two or more) in their digital specialization and are poised for leadership position in the digital transformation of the Nigerian economy.

The Ijesha Digital Hub remains committed to its mission of fostering digital entrepreneurship incubation and acceleration and technological advancement, ensuring that more young Nigerians are prepared to thrive in the rapidly evolving digital landscape.

One of the highlights of the historic event was the announcement of the launching soon of a 100 million Naira digital infrastructure fund for the “1000 Digital Workforce in 24 months” project, by US based world-renowned Engineering Professor Olu Olowokere. Dr. Babatunde Ojo, IGAD’s secretary and clinical medical director based in North Carolina, USA presented special awards to the six top graduates from the graduating class.


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WhatsApp to Deactivate Support for Certain Phone Models over Incompatibility

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WhatsApp has announced that it will no longer be supported on a variety of phone models starting from the summer of 2024.


WhatsApp to Deactivate Support for Certain Phone Models over Incompatibility

This decision affects a significant number of devices from popular brands such as Samsung, Motorola, Huawei, Apple, Sony, and LG.

Users are advised to check the list of incompatible devices to determine whether their phones are affected and whether they need to upgrade to continue using WhatsApp securely.

Surprisingly, some of the models on the list are quite old, but due to their decent hardware or lack of upgrade options, some users have been clinging onto WhatsApp for dear life.

At present, WhatsApp is recommending that users only use the app if they have a device running on Android 5.0 or later, or an iPhone with iOS 12 or newer.

The affected models include popular devices like Samsung Galaxy Ace Plus, Motorola Moto G, and various iPhone models like 5, 6, and SE.

This development highlights the rapid evolution of technology and the need for users to stay current with their devices to access essential services like WhatsApp.

As we move towards a more advanced digital age, it becomes increasingly crucial for users to regularly check for updates and ensure compatibility with the latest software and applications.

In light of WhatsApp’s decision to discontinue support for certain phone models, there are several key points that users should be aware of regarding this future incompatibility issue.

One of the main challenges associated with WhatsApp ceasing support for older phone models is the potential security risks involved.

Unsupported devices may become more vulnerable to security threats as they will no longer receive essential updates and patches from WhatsApp.

Additionally, users who are unable or unwilling to upgrade their devices may face difficulties in communicating with friends and family who continue to use WhatsApp.

On the controversial side, some users argue that tech companies should provide support for older devices to ensure inclusivity and accessibility for all users, regardless of their device’s age or specifications.

However, from WhatsApp’s perspective, maintaining support for outdated models may hinder the app’s ability to innovate and introduce new features that require more advanced hardware.


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