In the past, Prof Ndubuisi Ekekwe cited the year 2022 as the year of immersive connectivity where broadband internet will become affordable in Africa. He suggested that the sector would witness fierce competition from satellite broadband vendors to Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) deploying balloons, drones, relays, antennas, satellites etc., which would ultimately drive growth ().
Recently, Facebook made the headlines when it decided to invest $5.7B in India’s Reliance Jio Platforms for a 10% stake. Interestingly, Facebook has also decided to invest in connectivity in Africa by joining a consortium of China Mobile, MTN, Vodafone etc., with plans to build 2Africa, a subsea cable which would deliver internet capacities more than the total combined capacity of all the current subsea cables serving Africa. 2Africa will provide service providers with capacity in carrier neutral or open access cable stations on a fair and equitable basis. 2Africa would no doubt improve internet penetration in Africa as well as support the growth of 4G and 5G systems.
The 2Africa cable is expected to go live between 2023 and 2024. Pricing would be determined by local operators but it is expected that the increased data availability and fierce competition will cause a drastic reduction in the price of data.
It is also believed that the continent may start to see deployment of 5G networks within this time frame (2024 and beyond). Now, could the 2022-2024 era indeed usher Africa into an era of immersive connectivity with boundless opportunities? Only time will tell if Prof Ndubuisi is indeed right.