The sixth edition of the Sub-Sahara Spectrum Management Conference has kicked off, with regulators, experts, and other industry players looking for the African common stand on spectrum management.

Across the region, approximately 800 million people are not connected to the mobile internet. Of those, some 520 million people can access the mobile internet but do not, because of factors such as smartphone penetration and lack of skills. 270 million others cannot access the mobile internet because they do not have the requisite coverage.

Additionally, less than half of the population in the region is covered by 4G mobile broadband. Achieving consensus on spectrum management will play a major role in addressing those shortfalls.

“We live in a time when we talk about digital as a default, about the digital transformation of our societies and economies, and the need for a fully connected society,” says Mario Maniewicz, Director of ITU’s Radiocommunication Bureau. “If this is to become a reality, broadband connectivity needs to be made accessible to all, even in the most remote areas.”

John Omo, Secretary General, African Telecommunications Union (ATU) commented, “COVID-19 has kept people apart from each other, but the spectrum on mobile networks have built bridges and kept us together. Whether we succeed in our quest to further bridge the digital divide and address other challenges are pinned on our dedication to duty and the extent to which we want to go in using spectrum to address these challenges.”

Among other issues, the conference will address are the importance of the 700Mhz-800Mhz frequency bands for widespread coverage, and the need to address the skills gap when it comes to installing technologies. These technologies will enable the widespread adoption of the spectrum.