“This year will go down in history as the one which saw widespread global disruption … (it) will probably also be known as the year when society as a whole took a giant leap forward in our digitalization journey” writes Fredrik Jejdling, a publisher, the Executive Vice President and Head of Business Area Networks at Ericson in an introductory statement to Ericson Mobility Report by Ericson, a November issue paper highlighting the outlook of global mobile subscriptions.

Findings from the report anticipated over the period until 2026 provided that there will be 8. billion global mobile subscriptions by the end of the year 2026 at 91% and out of the number, 3.5 billion will be attributed to 5G subscriptions accounting to 40% of the total mobile subscriptions, or 220 million by the end of 2020 alone attributed to China uptake.

5G uptake is expected to be higher than it has been with the current rollouts of 4G.

Regionally however, (Africa in particular), by the end of 2020, mobile subscriptions will stand at 41% (GSM/Edge-only (2G)), LTE (4G) will stand at a meagre 15%, and 0% penetration levels of 5G. There will be a 0% penetration of 5G by the end of the year for North Africa and the Middle East. 3G penetration will stand at 44% for Sub Saharan Africa and about 30% for the Middle East and North Africa.

However, by 2026, the study period, Sub – Saharan Africa will have the least global number with 5% penetration of 5G compared to the North America that will be at 80%, and about 15% for North Africa and Middle East. Sub Saharan Africa will have 30% 4G penetration and about 40% 3G and less than 30% 2G.

The report adds that mobile subscriptions on the African continent are predicted to continue to grow over the forecast period as mobile penetration will be at 84 percent by that period, a figure less than the global average, with mobile broadband subscriptions predicted to increase up to reaching 76 percent of total mobile subscriptions by the target year.

5G and LTE subscriptions are predicted to continue growing over the next 6 years, but HSPA (3G) will still be dominant technology with a share of over 40 percent in 2026 in Sub – Saharan Africa.

The factors for the increase in mobile broadband are predicted to be “a young, growing, population with increasing digital skills and more affordable smartphones” as 5G will stand at 5%.