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Realizing the vision for a digitally transformed society in Madagascar

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Africa with nations like Madagascar, is undergoing a remarkable digital transformation in its telecommunications sector. Ericsson has a long-standing presence in Madagascar, having partnered with mobile operators to provide reliable and advanced network infrastructure for over two decades.

President of Ericsson Middle East and Africa

Fadi Pharaon President of Ericsson Middle East and Africa

President of Ericsson Middle East and Africa

President of Ericsson Middle East and Africa

According to the November 2023 edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report, mobile subscriptions in Sub-Saharan Africa are anticipated to experience a 3 percent annual growth, increasing from 940 million in 2023 to 1.1 billion in 2029. The report highlights 5G as the most rapidly expanding subscription type during this period. Proudly, Madagascar was one of the first countries in Africa to commercially launch 5G.

The opportunities of digitalization

A recent report reveals that the total telecom service revenue in Madagascar will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 6 percent during 2023-2028, primarily supported by contributions from the mobile data service segment. 

Our vision at Ericsson, is to witness Africa in motion, which is our commitment to accelerate digitalization and pioneer a sustainable future powered by advanced connectivity in Madagascar and across the continent. This vision is about more than just technology. We are working to bridge the digital divide, ensuring that the benefits of digitalization are accessible to all. A key achievement here is the introduction of our Radio 6626, an advanced and energy-efficient technology that was first tested globally in Madagascar in partnership with our customer, Telma, achieving great results. The technology cuts power consumption by up to 50 percent and reduces tower load.

Empowering rural societies

A significant portion of Africa’s population resides in rural areas and Madagascar is no exception. According to National Geographic, most of the population in Madagascar live in rural areas, where the daily life revolves around agriculture. This poses a challenge when it comes to deploying sites. The cost of deploying and maintaining infrastructure in these areas often exceeds the potential return on investment and thereby hinders widespread coverage. Additionally, the global energy cost of running mobile networks, estimated at USD 25 billion annually, underscores the need for more sustainable and energy-efficient solutions.

A key focus is empowering rural Africa with sustainable, high-speed connectivity. Addressing these challenges calls for innovative approaches such as Ericsson’s intelligent Radio Access Network (RAN) energy-saving software and triple-band, tri-sector 5G radio technology which are helping reduce energy use and carbon emissions and contributing to more sustainable connectivity. Another example is Ericsson's Solar 5G sites that have the potential to be fully operated by solar energy, complemented by integrated Lithium-ion batteries, for up to a 24-hour period. These technological advancements, combined with cross-industry cooperation, are key to empowering rural Africa with high-speed, and reliable connectivity.

One other key tool to empower rural societies is Mobile Money. Societies that depend on agriculture such as the case in Madagascar can reap immense benefits from Mobile Money between farmers or small business owners. According to an article by the International Finance Corporation, “digital microfinance services can be a boon for Madagascar’s small businesses too, particularly in the agricultural sector which employs 75 percent of the population.” Ericsson Wallet Platform is a fintech platform that enables telecom operators and financial service providers to offer fast, secure, personalized, and easy-to-use mobile financial services to their customers. The platform drives financial inclusion and wellbeing by enabling all consumers, banked or unbanked, to transfer, pay, save, grow, receive, and borrow money.

Solutions for reliable connectivity across Africa

For a sustainable, long-lasting solution to the challenges of digital inclusion and connectivity, a more multifaceted approach is required. This includes strategic partnerships, policy reforms, and community engagement. Collaborations between governments and private sector companies are vital. Ericsson's partnership with the Smart Africa Digital Academy (SADA) benefits from the Ericsson Educate program to enhance the digital skills and competencies of policymakers, regulators, and top management at ICT ministries in member countries of the Smart Africa Alliance, drawing 100 participants from 19 countries.

Another key element to advance connectivity in Madagascar is creating innovative financing models which are crucial to overcome financial barriers in deploying infrastructure in rural and low-income areas.

Developing localized digital content and services tailored to the local needs can also drive internet adoption, as well as enhancing digital literacy. Madagascar has already a strong supply of software development talent, with hundreds of skilled software engineers graduating per year, and a dynamic Information Communication and Technology (ICT) private sector that can be leveraged to provide digital services tailored to the population’s needs.

Supportive policy and regulatory environments play another key role in furthering investment in connectivity infrastructure in the country. Technologies that are both sustainable and scalable, such as Ericsson’s Rural Site solution, are essential for long-term growth. Solutions like these offer cost-effective and reliable infrastructure for complete site installation, tailored radio and transmission solutions optimized for rural environments, and integrated solar panels and batteries as alternative green sources of power.

Engaging with local communities in Madagascar to understand their specific needs and challenges is also crucial. This ensures that connectivity solutions are designed and implemented in a way that is most beneficial to those who need them most.

A bright future with a fully connected Madagascar

Looking ahead to 2024 and beyond, the expansion of 4G and 5G networks in Madagascar is set to drive further innovation and opportunities. The goal is to extend affordable broadband access across the island. Aligning with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), this journey encompasses not just technological advancement but also sustainable, long-term growth and development.

The journey towards a fully connected Madagascar is complex yet filled with potential. By bridging the digital divide and empowering communities with accessible broadband coverage, we can enable access to essential services such as education, healthcare, and financial opportunities. The acceleration of the digital landscape is promising, and its continued evolution will play a crucial role in the island’s overall growth and progress.

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