The new Nokia Middle East and Africa (MEA) Mobile Broadband Index research report is out. It confirms that the Middle East is far ahead of Africa in terms of 5G adoption, and that many operators in Africa are still developing their business models around 4G.
Voice traffic still relies on 2G and 3G networks in many parts of the region.
That said, 5G is forecast to increase steadily and will contribute to the growth of the mobile broadband subscriber base, which is expected to grow with a CAGR of 6% in MEA.
According to the report, 4G networks in MEA account for 79% of overall data traffic today. However, by 2027, 4G and 5G will together account for 90% of data traffic. In the same year, 4G subscribers will reach 1,214 million (53% of total subscribers) whereas 5G adoption is estimated to reach 380 million subscribers (17% of the total).
Yearly ARPU is estimated to increase at US$3.4 in 2027, and total data traffic is expected to increase at a CAGR of 32% from 2022 to 2027.
The report shows that in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, 5G adoption is the fastest, and that 5G subscribers are expected to reach 75% by 2027, mainly driven by Saudi Arabia.
In non-GCC Middle Eastern countries, and in Africa, 4G will continue to expand and remain dominant until 2027, while 5G deployment is at a nascent stage today and poised to gain more and more momentum over the coming years.
The report suggests that 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) in the GCC countries and 4G FWA in the rest of the MEA region are among the most attractive use cases, with a significant opportunity for operators to drive incremental revenues.
It also argues that 5G networks are more energy-efficient than previous radio network generations, helping operators reach their sustainability targets.