Nokia head of customer marketing and communications in the middle east and African regions Joachim Wuilmet said the African continent is on the cusp of the next great mobile phone innovation in 2019.
Writing in a circular from the multinational telecommunications giant, Wuilmet said mobile subscribers in sub-Saharan Africa rose by 44% in 2017 and smartphone penetration in the same region increased by 75%.
Wuilmet said Africa is poised at the edge of an evolution, ready to show the rest of the world what it can do with innovation and a commitment to improving infrastructure and that the leap from 2G to 4G in sub-Saharan Africa would happen faster than many expect.
"Currently, sub-Saharan Africa is still locked into 2G but this is about to change. The move from 2G to 3G requires significant investment and access to the right devices and technology, but then it becomes easier as 4G is a natural evolution," said Wuilmet.
Wuilmet said the move towards 4G would allow more people to experience the benefits of 3G and 4G in terms of connectivity, efficiency and mobile capabilities.
"People in Africa are increasingly connected, and most market players are focused on bringing this connectivity into rural areas and all aspects of society," he said.
Market Unit Head, Central, East, West Africa at Nokia Daniel Jaeger said there were already a number of impressive innovations around 5G in Africa, with some commercial sites in South Africa already rolling out.
"However, we need to keep perspective – we need to reach as many people as possible, migrating them to 3G and increasing smartphone penetration – before we leapfrog to 5G. Africa is poised to take advantage of the latest technologies to ensure modernisation of mobile infrastructure and potential, but it must be done intelligently," said Jaeger.
Jaeger said mobile operators will continue to focus on software to deliver services in more effective ways and data will see them streamline operations to provide more targeted and relevant solutions.