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Nokia, Safaricom Partner to Launch East Africa’s First Commercial 5G Services in Kenya

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Nokia 5G radio and FastMile 5G gateways provide ultra-fast Fixed Wireless Access services to subscribers; Safaricom also showcased 5G hologram and UHD video communication using live 5G network.

Nokia has announced today that it is powering East Africa’s first 5G commercial services with Safaricom, the leading telecoms operator in the country. Nokia’s 5G Single Radio Access Network (SRAN) technology and 5G FastMile gateways enable ultra-fast Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) services to Safaricom’s subscribers across Kisumu and the Western Province of Kenya.

5G technology will enable new applications in areas such as virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence for Safaricom subscribers. It will also benefit enterprises across important energy, healthcare, education, transport and entertainment applications.

At a launch event in Nairobi, Safaricom showcased the capabilities of the 5G network with three use cases — 5G hologram, Ultra-HD video communication and virtual fashion shopping. In the hologram showcase, the live 5G network was used to teleport Safaricom’s executives from Safaricom office in Kisumu to the launch event in Nairobi. And in the second showcase, Ultra-HD video communication was made using the 5G Fixed Wireless Access connectivity powered by WiFi-6 with Nokia Beacon 6. The third showcase of virtual shopping will change shopping experience allowing users to try on clothes “virtually”.

Nokia has leveraged its AirScale SRAN platform to enable ultra-low latency, huge connectivity and extreme capacity to support the demands of today and tomorrow. The 5G network utilizes massive Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) radio to improve spectral efficiency and throughput capacity, maximizing the return on Safaricom’s RAN investment. In addition, Nokia’s FastMile 5G gateway provides fiber like speeds for fixed wireless services to subscribers. Also, the company’s network planning, deployment and integration services ensured timely rollout of the network.

As part of the network, Nokia 5G Cloud Mobility Manager delivers the scalability, flexibility, high availability and performance needed to support the growth of mobile and enterprise services. Nokia’s NetAct network management system helps Safaricom have consolidated network view for improved network monitoring and management.

Peter Ndegwa, CEO of Safaricom, said: “We are proud to be the first operator in the East Africa to launch 5G services, bringing the benefits of 5G technology to our customers. 5G capabilities will change a lot of things in unimaginable ways for people and enterprises, playing a key role towards fulfilling our vision to transform lives. Our long-term partner Nokia’s technologies and services expertise helped us achieve this milestone in our journey to provide world-class broadband services to our customers.”

Amr K. El Leithy, SVP, Middle East and Africa Market, Nokia, said: “With over 200 commercial 5G agreements with leading customers across the globe, Nokia has been bringing 5G network to every part of the world. Our 5G network for Safaricom is a key part of this journey and we are committed to working with the operator to transform the communications landscape in the country. This will open new business opportunities for Safaricom.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Telecommunications

Nokia and African Telecommunications Union (ATU) to Speed up Digital Transformation and the Knowledge Economy in Africa

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Collaboration to leverage the power of ICT including 5G for Industry 4.0 (IR 4.0), connecting the unconnected and transforming lives; Both organizations reiterate commitment to shape policy, develop talent, and promote inclusion and diversity in Africa.

Nokia has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the African Telecommunications Union (ATU) to drive digital transformation and the knowledge economy for socio-economic development across the continent. The two parties will leverage the power of telecommunications, including 5G networks, to connect the unconnected and identify innovative use cases, as well as business models. In addition, the MoU will lay ground for both organizations to better help governments shape telecom policy, develop talent and promote inclusion and diversity. This includes women, as well as the underprivileged in both rural and urban areas.

The MoU was signed in Nairobi, Kenya, by John OMO, Secretary General at ATU and Rajiv Aggarwal, Nokia Representative and Head of Central, East and West Africa Market Unit at Nokia.

Announcing the partnership, Rajiv Aggarwal, Head of Central, East and West Africa Market Unit at Nokia, said: “We remain keen on supporting Africa’s digital transformation journey and by collaborating with the ATU, we strengthen this commitment. We will leverage our global technology expertise and insights on policy matters to positively impact the universal socio-economic development in the continent.”

Co-signing the MoU with Mr. Rajiv, John OMO, Secretary General of the African Telecommunications Union (ATU), said: “Our vision is to make Africa a full and active participant in the global information and knowledge society by enabling universal access to ICT systems and services across Africa. Collaboration with a global industry leader such as Nokia is therefore crucial in this regard and will help us accelerate towards a digital transformation and knowledge economy.”

The MoU framework is guided by six tenets designed to facilitate this acceleration. These are:

  • Sharing of best practices on telecom technology trends and developments
  • Identification of innovative industrial use cases toward the Fourth Industrial Revolution
  • Recommendation on implementation of emerging technologies and business models
  • Promotion of connecting the unconnected with broadband
  • Development of emerging talent for digital innovation
  • Promotion of inclusion and diversity

Nokia has a long history of collaboration with international organizations and bodies across the globe. Regionally in MEA, Nokia recently partnered with UN Women to promote inclusion and diversity in Middle East and Africa. Nokia is also working with UNICEF as part of a shared-value partnership in Kenya to connect schools with broadband and empower children in rural as well as disadvantaged urban areas. In November 2020, Nokia supported the Forge Academy in South-Africa with the launch of a fully inclusive artificial intelligence (AI) laboratory to help students to become entrepreneurs in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the global digital economy.

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Broadband Penetration in Need of a Leg-up – Coronation Merchant Bank

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Digital technologies can promote growth in an economy partly due to their capacity to reduce costs and improve the quality of delivery. However, to achieve this, highspeed and reliable internet and broadband are required. The latest data released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the industry regulator, show that internet subscriptions stood at 139.4 million in July, representing a y/y decline of -5%. Furthermore, we noticed a m/m decline of c.431,000 in subscriptions.

The decline in subscriptions can be partly attributed to the temporary suspension of SIM card sales to ensure the achievement of the National Identification Number (NIN) registration exercise. Additionally, based on our channel checks, the stress associated with the NIN-SIM linkage has resulted in customers abandoning SIMs of devices that are not their primary source for communication or internet connectivity.

MTN Nigeria (MTNN) accounted for the largest share (42%) of total subscriptions though down -1.0% m/m in July ‘21. Airtel (-0.5%) and Glo (-0.9%) also recorded m/m decreases.

Over the past year, there has been a visible shift to fibre broadband internet plans which do not necessarily need SIM cards to function. We note that some residential estates are increasingly using this service given the heavy reliance on internet services at home due to the newly adopted work-from-home approach.

In November ‘19, President Buhari launched the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy. The strategy is hinged on eight critical pillars. One of the critical pillars is developing a solid infrastructure by deploying fixed and mobile broadband infrastructure to deepen broadband penetration and drive an inclusive and vibrant digital economy.

Similarly, in September ‘21, the FGN approved the national policy for the fifth-generation (5G) network to boost the country’s digital economy. The national broadband plan set a target for the country to attain 70% broadband penetration at a price of N390 per 1GB of data (i.e. 1.3% of minimum wage).

The latest national accounts show that Information and Communications Technology sector grew by 5.6% y/y and contributed 17.9% to the total GDP in Q2 ’21. This is slightly higher than its contributions in Q2 ’20 (17.8%) and Q1 ’21 (14.9%). It also showed that telecommunications grew by 5.9% y/y in Q2 ‘21 compared with 7.7% in Q1 ‘21 and 18.1% in Q2 ‘20.

We note that investments into the sector have declined steadily. Capital importation into the telecommunications sector declined by 138.2% from USD944.1m in ’14 to USD417.5m in ’20. This can be linked to the infrastructure deficit in the telecommunications sector, the high cost of services and access devices, low digital literacy, poor perception of broadband value, among others.

Clear policy and regulatory guidance are fundamental to the optimal distribution and uptake of broadband services. The evolving work conditions, travel restrictions due to covid-19, the rise of e-commerce, and integration of technology in daily activities show that the rollout of broadband services has the potential to address various socio-economic challenges, grow the economy and create jobs.

Industry sources suggest that a 10% increase in broadband penetration can increase the GDP of an economy by 1.8 – 2.0%

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Foreigners to Activate SIMs Every Six Months, Says NCC

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Foreigners exempted from enrolling for the National Identity Number will have to request for Subscriber Identity Module activation every six months up to a period of two years.

The Nigerian Communications Commission disclosed this in its new draft for ‘Business Rules and Operational Processes for Implementation of the National Policy for SIM activation, Replacement and Other Key Telecommunications Operational Processes.

The report said, “SIM activations for foreigners exempted from enrolling for NIN shall be configured for a period of six months in the first instance and can be renewed further upon request and where the visa is not for a stay of two years and above.”

It added, “Foreigners validly transiting through Nigeria or are employed in or reside in Nigeria for less than 24 months are exempted from the mandatory use of NIN requirement. Persons in this category need to provide justification that they will be residing in Nigeria for less than two years.”

It said if such foreigner failed to request for SIM activation at the end of the six-month period, the SIM would be deactivated.

For foreigners staying in the country for more than two years, it is required for them to register for NIN as well as fully register their SIMs.

“NIN is mandatory for foreigners with legal residency status or those living in Nigeria for two years and above. For those who do not already have a NIN, mobile network operators shall capture the resident’s details for NIN issuance as part of the NIN enrolment process, upon presentation of resident’s permits,” it stated.

The Punch had earlier reported that foreigners not staying in Nigeria for up to two years do not need a NIN to register SIM cards, according to the Revised National Identity Policy for SIM Card Registration.

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