By Olayinka Oduwole
Every ten years, there is always a shift from previous generation onto a newer generation. In 1991, the development of GSM made voice calls to become reliable and cheaper and encouraged the widespread adoption of SMS (short message service) and MMS (multimedia messaging service). 1n 2001, 3G ushered in an era of data services and allowed workers access to emails from any location, and this increased work productivity. 1n 2010, 4G led to the development of mobile internet and video based applications which triggered the development of many sectors like online shopping, e-banking etc. 2020 promises to usher in a revolutionary era of high speed connectivity, ubiquitous coverage and low latency, which promises to transform industries, societies, enterprises, and nations due to the deployment of 5G.
When should we, as Nigerians, expect to witness this global digital transformation, that is even causing great rift between the US and China? All things being equal, and if we ignore demand and supply considerations and other market forces, assume we continue at the same rate of deployment, 5G should be upon us in Nigeria by 2025, as depicted below. This result obviously ignores the commencement of GSM in Nigeria in 2001 (an obvious outlier) and depends on the past deployment rate of cellular technologies in Nigeria.
Interestingly, GSMA in their 5G outlook for Sub Saharan Africa, recently interviewed respondents asking them when they expect to witness 5G in their markets and 67% of respondents revealed that would expect 5G in their sub Saharan African markets after 2025. Therefore, based on the result above and GSMA’s interview results, we should expect 5G in Nigeria by 2025.
As developed markets commence the launch of their 5G networks in 2020, Nigerians, MNOs (mobile network operators), MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators), internet giants, verticals, regulator, policy makers, Nigerian Government, investors, and other interested stakeholders can hold their breath till 2025, and patiently await the arrival of 5G, assume Nigeria continues at the same rate of deployment.
If we however, wish to deploy 5G in Nigeria before 2025, we can definitely borrow a leaf from the Chinese Government’s handbook, who made an amb
itious plan to dominate this space through its ‘Made in China 2025’ policies.
P.S: If we consider demand and supply forces and other market forces, the above result can be made much more accurate. This simple study can be repeated and used to predict the 5G deployment timeline for other developing countries.