GSMA THRIVE AFRICA 2020: Xiao Ming, SVP of international sales at ZTE (pictured), spotlighted 5G as an opportunity for Africa to digitise a range of industries, but noted investments in more than just networks will be needed to ensure the transformation is sustainable.
In a keynote, Xiao said digitisation of fields including agriculture, manufacturing, mining, education and healthcare would help create new jobs and boost local economies across the continent.
He pointed to infrastructure as the biggest obstacle to achieving this, noting “not all networks are at the same level” and care needs to be taken to ensure short-term 3G and 4G upgrades are 5G-ready for the future.
The executive added additional work is required to ensure affordable devices and tariffs are available for African citizens, highlighting efforts to lower the total cost of network ownership as one way to bring down service fees.
Xiao also called for increased investment in digital skills training and education to cultivate a pool of local talent and developers, arguing this is necessary to ensure the transformation is sustainable.
Despite the hurdles, he said the company has faith “a digital Africa will be realised at full speed”.