The opportunities for 5G in Nigeria, from an enterprise perspective

This article is part of a series on the introduction to 5G.


The recent announcement by the Nigerian government to deploy the Fifth Generation (5G) cellular networks by January 2022 could be the needed catalyst for another acceleration of the development of the country and modernization of critical sectors as we march into the 4th industrial revolution.


Africa’s largest economy currently faces huge challenges in reducing poverty and dealing with lingering insecurity - these have negatively affected the country’s economy. However, the successful implementation of 5G and the vista it signposts portends nothing but positives to both the government and businesses at large.


5G as an enabler

The future depends on connectivity, powered by wireless networking technology. The technology disruptions that we see today revolutionizing our lives reflect a future we can only imagine in the recent past. Artificial intelligence, virtual and mixed reality and a slew of new technologies all point to a world without borders and limits, where lives will be easier, safer, and healthier.

Compared with the 4G that Nigeria currently operates, 5G speed tops out at 20 gigabits per second (Gbps), 600x faster than the typical 4G speeds on today’s mobile phones. The 2G, 3G, and 4G networks in Nigeria do not provide the protocol for emerging technologies such as Big Data, the Internet of Things (IoT), and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to thrive effectively. While Nigerians await the implementation of 5G to be the catalyst for new technologies, the 6G is expected to launch in 2030 and will use higher frequencies than 5G networks and thereby providing substantially higher capacity, much lower latency, and faster speeds.


5G technology for businesses and industries

From a business perspective, 5G technology is more than just faster Internet access. It is about bigger and faster business transactions for organizations in Nigeria that are quick to adopt it and is also about innovations that will unlock new opportunities in existing as well as new sectors. All players in the large-scale and small and medium enterprises across all the sectors of the Nigerian economy must understand, anticipate and prepare for the enormous opportunities that 5G presents. The capacities are mind-blowing, but businesses must devise innovative ways to use 5G to unlock the inherent value.

According to studies carried out by Accenture, 79% of businesses worldwide believe that 5G will have a significant impact on their organization. And 57% of those assert that it will be revolutionary.

The biggest beneficiaries of 5G in Nigeria will include transport, health, logistics, education, agriculture, and insurance sectors, among others. For instance, let’s examine Nigeria’s health system. Regardless of the current state of this sector, the demand for healthcare services increases annually, with an implied expectation for more information sharing and storage by healthcare professionals, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. These medical records could be in large files which require a fast and reliable Internet connection.

Businesses in the health sector that leverage 5G network can eliminate service interruptions and save time when sharing information. For example, a certain health issue may require at least 5 medical specialists to deal with. During this process, medical reports and certain information are shared amongst them, and with 5G timely diagnostics is guaranteed.

In a new world driven apart by pandemics, with reduced physical interactions advisable, 5G, smartphones and viewing accessories like mixed-reality headsets can provide new, shared real-time entertainment experiences live and on-demand. Concerts, movie premieres, sporting events, and other location-based activities can take place in real-time, across time zones, and continents. Nigeria’s entertainment industry stands to benefit from 5G-enabled devices with every home potentially a live-screening venue for movie premieres. 5G is also transforming the content download experience. To download a 3GB movie, it will take 68 minutes using a 3G network; 40 minutes with a 4G network; and 27 minutes using 4G LTE to download. It will take only 35 seconds using 5G!

Agriculture is also expected to be disrupted by 5G. Wireless sensors connected through 5G could monitor field conditions and detect when crops need watering, pesticides, or fertilizer. 5G can help to track livestock and guide agricultural drones and self-driving tractors. This will improve agricultural outcomes with better crop yields and higher-quality produce.

The financial services sector - the fintech and the banks - are expected to be early adopters of the 5G network.

Fintechs are digital disruptors that continue to remodel the traditional systems, while banks remain one of the biggest spenders when it comes to technology. Nigeria’s largest bank by assets, Zenith Bank Plc, spent a whopping N20 billion on technology in 2020, more than double its 2019 spend of N9 billion.

Banks are using new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence to respond to queries from customers. With 5G adoption, AI will become more efficient, more financial transactions will become secured, forgeries and irregularities can be detected on a real-time basis. In the long run, 5G will affect speedy transactions and improve the overall customer experience.

According to KPMG, “5G and the use of IoT will see transformational changes to touch-less banking that will impact ATMs, bank branches and point of service, POS”.

The sector will record an exponential increase in digital payments, use of mobile banking, and remote implementation of key processes in the financial services sector including customer on-boarding.

Manufacturing is another sector that will be heavily impacted by the 5G network. Building smart factories are one of the realities with 5G. This offers the opportunity for this sector to create new revenue streams.

With 5G powering new technologies such as automation, AI, augmented reality for troubleshooting, and the Internet of Things (IoT), manufacturers can monitor in real-time and optimize maintenance routines.

BMW is considering the deployment of 5G across its global production sites after it confirmed its intention to apply for 5G spectrum licenses in the 3.7–3.8 GHz industrial band at local factories. According to a new study by Nokia titled “Mapping demand: The 5G opportunity in enterprise for communications service providers”, 5G connectivity enables in-vehicle systems to be updated remotely throughout the lifecycle of the vehicle, creating a potential new service revenue stream for automakers and dealers.

Businesses in the telecom industry are also positioning themselves to explore what 5G will offer. Revealing the company's readiness to adopt the new technology, MTN Nigeria’s Chief Technical Officer, Mohammed Rufai, said the speed and latency that 5G technology offers users is very impressive and opens up a wealth of possibilities to leverage the Internet of Things and digital services in general. 5G technology presents new revenue opportunities for the telcos. With 5G, telecommunication companies will not be limited to just connectivity as a service. They can also start rendering content distribution, media creation, and other innovative solutions as services.


Use cases of 5G technology

5G use cases are currently either in the test or proof-of-concept phase, using prototype networks, devices, or other technology.

In 2019, Huawei was able to showcase a variety of 5G use cases and applications at a test laboratory in Abuja. The immersive demo and experience of 5G didn’t end in Abuja, it was also extended to other cities like Lagos, Calabar, etc.

Stakeholders who were present during the trial experienced what ultra-high-speed streaming and downloads on 5G devices looked like; immersed themselves in a high-speed, low-latency virtual reality gaming world; matched their skills against an artificial-intelligence powered goalie; engaged in discourse with life-like holographic projections amongst other use cases.


5G and other new technologies

The latest paradigm in the IT industry is Edge Computing. This new technology simply works by capturing and processing data as close to the source of the data. 5G enables Edge Computing by reducing the latency of computing devices and machinery to collect data and feed it to edge servers or the cloud.

5G network and Edge Computing are essentials for enterprises that deal with large volumes of data. Businesses that are deploying both technologies protect information and share them as quickly as possible.

Also, System Integration is another IT service that will be impacted by 5G technology. Businesses that are focused on leading their sectors require their computer systems to work in synchronization. System Integration simply means various systems being interconnected. Research and Markets, the world’s largest market research store in its studies predicted that the global 5G system integration market size is expected to reach USD 45.5 billion by 2027.

System Integration is essential both for business-to-business communication and internal cooperation. And to tap into these projections, it becomes imperative to connect different subsystems into a single larger system to function as one. It makes communication seamless; improves the productivity and quality of operations.

Interestingly, with the adoption of 5G, cybersecurity becomes a critical subject. Many questions have been asked - if technology will address cybersecurity challenges or pose new threats. According to Kaspersky, it will address existing security challenges and pose a new threat to businesses, the government, and people. Security concern stems from the network itself, while others involve the devices connecting to 5G.

However, businesses must invest in 5G technology to be better equipped ahead of cyber threats. With AI, Cloud Computing, IoT, powered by 5G, businesses can prevent threats. The high speed offered by 5G makes it faster to implement cybersecurity strategies.

In all, 5G technology will significantly drive digital transformation. The new technology provides the opportunities, it behooves businesses to start leveraging same to create new or modify existing business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements.

For example, with the availability of 5G, it will be easier for any innovative business to deploy Artificial Intelligence (AI) into service delivery or customer service. Some banks in Nigeria have AI-powered chatbots that answer simple customer inquiries when you visit their platforms. The beauty of this is that it reduces the time customers wait to speak to an agent.

More so, Machine Learning which is a subset of AI is another tool for digital transformation. Some banks are using this technology and with 5G expected to launch soon in Nigeria, it’s going to become prevalent. For instance, machine learning enables more accurate reporting by automating credit risk testing for both banks and customers.

In conclusion, businesses that are yet to take advantage of the 5G technology must start positioning themselves to improve service delivery, customer services and add to the bottom line, while being aware of the challenges this new paradigm will pose.


What enterprises must do to take advantage of 5G

As the government has given a green light on the commencement of 5G in the country by January 2022, enterprises should position themselves to harness the advantages of the new technology with the adoption of changes to;


Processes and Culture: The 5G technology is a software-driven technology that will help automate business processes for improved effectiveness and efficiency. Enterprises that adopt 5G technology will be able to send huge packets of data at super-fast speeds to the cloud and process data more intelligently, allowing for better real-time experiences. Nigerian enterprises must embrace agility and even more flexibility to their employees when it comes to working locations. With faster processes enabled by 5G, traditional calls will give way to holographic calling, 3D presentations with or without glasses, and interactive meetings utilizing AI technology.


Skills: Enterprises should ensure their key assets which are individuals, are trained in the implementation, integration, and operability of 5G technology to their existing technology and operations to ensure adequate handshake. 5G will require updated skills in RF technologies, mobile apps, platform programming, managed security, and cloud, among other skills and enterprises, must upskill their people to take advantage of the opportunities of 5G.


Partnerships and Collaboration: Industry alliance with the 5G technology will help to improve faster adoption and implementation towards ensuring a unified technological ecosystem. As businesses adopt new technologies as part of their digital transformation initiatives, they will move from on-premises to the cloud, which is no longer optional for enterprises. Collaboration with cloud providers such as AWS, Azure Google, and Alibaba will enable 5G enabled enterprises to maximize wide bandwidth availability and enhanced security features to connect to clouds more cheaply. Some organizations have become front-liners in the 5G technology infrastructure design and deployment; smart enterprises can partner with these front-liners to bridge the gap of learning to fast-track implementation, upgrade operations and realize benefits faster.


No matter how you plan to get your network ready for 5G, you don’t need to do it on your own. Our Technology Advisory team can help profile the 5G readiness of your business and provide direction on how to evolve your business model to take full advantage of the capabilities of 5G. Talk to one of our technology experts today to learn more.