Johnson Salako: The Future of Telecoms in Nigeria

As CEO of MPS Technologies Limited, Johnson Salako leads a pioneering Nigerian telecoms company, leveraging his significant experience and industry expertise. This article will explore the various different ways that technological innovations in the telecom sector will benefit Nigeria in 2023, looking at the rollout of 5G in particular and its potential to drive economic growth.

Experts predict that 5G deployment, fintech advancements, technology skills development and Nigeria’s Startup Act will shape the country’s telecom sector in 2023. Building on gains created in 2022, growth in the Nigerian telecom sector is poised to positively impact the economy in several areas of GDP growth. The full deployment of 5G networks across the country in 2023, combined with implementation of the Startup Act, is predicted to drive technology skills development and fintech innovation.

Gbenga Adebayo is chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria. He predicts that there will be increased data analytics in 2023, driven by increased data application and informing major decision making. Mr Adebayo suggests that fintechs will receive more support from telecom operators, enabling them to develop more solutions to further support financial transactions across the board. Gbenga Adebayo also anticipates that fintech will ride on 5G technology when fully rolled out in 2023, providing bespoke solutions to drive the smart cities initiative and the digital transformation agenda.

Full rollout of 5G across Nigeria is predicted to drive development in the telecom sector, with telecom networks becoming a lot more stable in 2023. This is because most sites that were running on radio links are being commissioned and reconnected to fiber optic infrastructure, creating better resilience and service quality. Telecom industry insiders predict that broadband coverage will further increase in 2023, culminating in increased connectivity, although some caution that affordability of broadband access may be a challenge for many.

In July 2022, Nigeria recorded a broadband penetration rate of 44.49%, with subscription growth at 84.9 million. In his projection of 5G deployment throughout the country, Karl Toriola, chief executive officer of MTN Nigeria, confirmed that the company had already rolled out its 5G network in Abuja and Lagos, revealing plans to launch the service in another five cities in 2023: Kano, Port Harcourt, Owerri, Ibadan and Maiduguri. Mr Toriola added that customers with certain enabled devices would be allowed to connect and try out the new service where coverage was available.

Fifth generation technology, or 5G as it is commonly known, is predicted to offer a variety of different benefits, engendering smart living and accelerated growth when fully deployed. Experts also suggest that the technology will deliver substantial network improvements, including enhanced mobility and capacity, higher connection speeds, and low-latency capabilities. 5G is predicted to contribute some $2.2 trillion to the global economy by 2034, according to a GSMA Intelligence report published in 2020.

In order to harness the power of 5G, the Nigerian Communications Commission – the country’s telecom industry regulator – successfully auctioned two lots in the 3.5GHz spectrum in December 2021, in a keenly contested bidding process between Mafab Communications Limited, Airtel Nigeria Communications, and MTN Nigeria Communications Plc. At the conclusion of the exercise, the Nigerian Communications Commission declared Mafab and MTN as the winners of two frequency lots, awarding the companies 5G licenses in 2022. However, in December 2022, the Nigerian Communications Commission awarded a third 5G license to Airtel, enabling all three companies to roll out 5G networks across Nigeria and fueling technological innovation and development.

For a fully 5G-enabled landscape, access to devices supporting the spectrum are just as important as the technology itself, and it will be down to individual users to make the switch. However, experts caution that the significant cost of 4G devices has contributed to a lack of coverage, warning that the same may prove true for 5G networks.

To fuel economic growth and technological innovation in Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari recently signed the Startup Bill into law. When fully implemented, the Startup Act will further drive technological advancements in Nigeria, aiding entrepreneurship and promoting self-reliance and job creation. According to Adede John Williams, the Association of Telecommunications Professionals of Nigeria’s national president, the Startup Act will empower a pool of skills and manpower for deployment throughout Nigeria, attracting foreign investments and creating an environment for growth.

About MPS Technologies Limited

MPS Technologies Limited is a special purpose vehicle created to manage the concession of the Nigerian Public Security and Communication Service Network. The company builds and manages Unified Security Communication Networks for other organizations and is currently developing a network to enhance the operational effectiveness of Nigerian security agencies. MPS Technologies Limited leverages cutting-edge technology in its role as a major network infrastructure provider in Nigeria, providing the country’s first and only 4.5G Pro LTE Advanced Network developed for enhanced broadband services and ubiquitous public safety communication.


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