5G Standalone Networks & AI: Overcoming Obstacles to Transform Sub-Saharan Africa and Small Islands

Principle of the day (1)

5G Standalone Networks & AI: Overcoming Obstacles to Transform Sub-Saharan Africa and Small Islands

Principle of the day (1)

April 24, 2023

AI, 5G, Emerging Markets, GSMA, AFDB

Overcoming Obstacles to Transform Sub-Saharan Africa and Small Islands 5G Standalone networks and AI synergize to create an unprecedented era of digital inclusivity and intelligent innovationespecially in Sub-Saharan Africa and small global islands


According to Deloitte  a recent Deloitte 5G Standalone (SA) networks and AI possess the potential to usher in an unprecedented era of digital inclusivity and intelligent innovation, with Sub-Saharan Africa and small islands standing to benefit greatly. 


The constraints can be categorized into four main groups: General, Specific, Supply Chain, and Financial.


Technical complexity: Transitioning to 5G SA involves a shift from hardware-centric infrastructure to virtualized, cloud-based architectures, which require seamless integration with other network elements.

Strategic decisions: MNOs face tough choices between deploying core networks on public clouds or constructing their own cloud infrastructure, with each option presenting its own pros and cons.

Workforce and culture transition: For successful 5G SA network operation, MNOs must adapt their workforce and organizational culture to be agile, entrepreneurial, and software-oriented.

Vendor selection and integration: Navigating the challenges of selecting and integrating best-of-breed vendors is crucial to a successful 5G SA migration.

Semiconductor chip shortage and supply chain disruptions: The ongoing chip crisis and global supply chain challenges may impede the timely and cost-effective deployment of 5G SA networks.



Regulatory and legal frameworks: Inadequate or outdated regulations and legal systems in some countries may hinder the deployment and adoption of 5G and AI technologies, as they might not be prepared to address issues related to data privacy, cybersecurity, and spectrum allocation.

Investment and funding: Limited availability of financial resources for infrastructure development and technology adoption can be a major constraint, as deploying 5G networks and AI systems requires significant investments.

Digital literacy and skills gap: A lack of digital literacy and a skills gap in the local workforce may slow down the adoption and utilization of 5G and AI technologies, as well as limit the ability to develop local technology solutions.

Access to electricity and internet connectivity: In some regions, unreliable access to electricity and limited internet connectivity can impede the rollout and effective use of 5G and AI technologies.

Geographical and environmental challenges: Remote and sparsely populated areas, as well as regions with challenging terrain or harsh environmental conditions, may face difficulties in deploying 5G infrastructure and ensuring seamless connectivity.


Supply Chain


Constraints - Supply Chain and Material Shortages:

Raw material availability and pricing: Fluctuations in the availability and pricing of raw materials, such as metals and minerals required for manufacturing electronic components, can affect the supply chain and increase the cost of deploying 5G and AI technologies.

Transportation and logistics: Disruptions in transportation and logistics due to geopolitical tensions, natural disasters, or pandemics can result in delays or increased costs for the delivery and deployment of essential equipment and infrastructure.

Dependence on foreign suppliers: Emerging markets may rely heavily on foreign suppliers for key components and technologies, making them vulnerable to supply chain disruptions, trade restrictions, or political conflicts.

Environmental and sustainability concerns: The extraction, production, and disposal of materials used in electronic components and infrastructure can have significant environmental impacts, raising sustainability concerns that may influence public opinion, regulations, and investment priorities.



Foreign exchange (FX) challenges: Emerging markets may face difficulties in securing the necessary foreign exchange reserves to make payments to their country's MNOs. Fluctuations in exchange rates can impact the affordability and financial feasibility of deploying 5G and AI technologies.

Monetary policy influences: Changes in monetary policies from central banks like the Federal Reserve can affect the financial environment for emerging markets, which in turn may impact their ability to invest in and benefit from 5G and AI technologies for digital inclusivity and innovation.


While these challenges are common to all countries, their impact may be more pronounced in poorer nations due to limited resources, infrastructure, and skilled workforce.