Ericsson, a global leader in networking and mobile technology solutions has hinted at venturing into Rwanda’s Innovation initiatives as a way of further connecting the country with its latest technologies, innovations, and research.
Fadi Pharaon, President of Ericsson Middle East and Africa told KTPress in an interview in Kigali, that this will increase Ericsson ‘s engagement in ensuring the sustainability and long-term viability of its technological solutions in Africa, especially in Rwanda.
Driving the 5G move
Rwanda plans to shift from 4G to 5G internet technology which is already in place and deployed globally in over 200 live networks but has also been adopted by some African countries including Nigeria, South Africa, and Madagascar.
Pharaon says that for Rwanda to make the shift (launch) it will have to be sustainable but also will rely on the regulators, policymakers, and operators of which Ericsson deals with the latter to a large extent in Rwanda.
Ericsson believes that as the world moves towards 2025, it is possible to scale up 5G, while simultaneously reducing total network energy consumption as demand on mobile networks continues to grow.
By 2040, Ericsson aims to achieve Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions across the value chain and realize a significant milestone in 2030 – being Net Zero in its activities and reducing emissions in the supply chain and portfolio by 50%.
Pharaon says that to ensure this happens in a sustainable way, they have developed two solutions: low-energy consumption towers, and solar panel-powered towers for rural community coverage, which are cost-effective, and reliable but also reduce carbon emissions.
Connectivity is a critical factor in driving economic growth and development.
Ericsson has tapped into the power of 5G as a tool to revolutionize the way we travel (using 5G transport) but for Africa, Pharaon says there are key sectors where this 5G can be deployed to provide Africa with a better future.
For instance, in the huge African mining sector, 5G can be deployed in trucks (using a low latency network and managed remotely) to ferry minerals under the mines.
He also suggested that to reduce the risks of disasters in mines, tons of 5G sensors can be deployed in mines to measure the dampness, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and climatic levels in mines.
“These need to be adopted especially for this industry and so we need a dialogue with operators in this sector,” Pharaon said.
With the presence of 4G and the need for connectivity and a growing tech ecosystem in Africa, Pharaon said that Ericsson is ready to make the impossible happen- to support operators with the right technology, increase skills levels, and work with regulators on the best practices.
Ericsson says that other elements that Africa can look into as the continent adapts to 5G, are in the agriculture, health, and education sectors, of which local operators have already ventured into using the existing 4G.
“Once applications are available, that add value to livelihood or productivity, or entertainment; they (Africa) will get to it. The technology is available but you need the infrastructure in place to allow entrepreneurs to test it,” Pharaon said.
On this note, Pharaon stated that Ericsson is open to investing in the Kigali Innovation City (KIC) and the Norrsken innovation hub- both aimed at developing cutting-edge solutions to help stimulate economic growth in Rwanda, the region, and the continent.
“This is something that we are open to study and if we feel we can add value, we will come to it,” Pharaon said.
Ericsson also says that Rwanda has a huge and unique market opportunity as internet consumption continues to grow exponentially to at least 5 Gigabytes consumed on a smartphone per month and will reach 18 Gigabytes by 2028, which means that the country can reach full connectivity.
However, according to Sena Erten, Vice President and Head of People at Ericsson Middle East & Africa, the company is learning from Rwanda’s example of empowering women into top leadership roles through recruiting Rwandan talent and training programs at the Ericsson Academies.
At the Ericsson academies which are located in different countries and working on different global projects, they recruit fresh university graduates of which 20% are from Rwanda.
“Rwanda is a pioneer (of countries) putting women in power and we would like to do the same for Ericsson Rwanda as well,” said Erten.
Currently, the women representation at Ericsson Rwanda is about 30% and according to Erten, they won’t rest until the company matches up with Rwanda’s current 64% women representation.
According to the Ericsson global critical skills 2022-2025 master plan, the goal is to attract, retain, re-train, and continually build future critical skills ahead of time of need.
To date, Ericsson has upskilled or reskilled over 30,000 people in the organization across critical skill areas like AI (where we have gone from a concentration of 300 experts to now over 19000 upskilled over the past 4 years), Cloud Native, 5G, Security, and even Business
In Storytelling over 100,000 employees use Degreed as the main digital platform for skill-building, where they designate their own focus skills every year aligned to their career ambitions and our global critical skills.
These global critical skill areas are identified through a systematic approach that connects skills to Ericsson’s strategy in prioritizing those skills most critical to transforming the company portfolio, delivery, customer experience, and innovation capabilities.
Ericsson aims to systematically scale the pipeline of Ericsson experts actively being leveraged, retained, and cross-trained with an ambition to reach nearly 100,000 people who have shifted their skills in global critical skills by 2027 and are putting them to work in strategic growth areas.
Through the GIGA initiative with UNICEF, Ericsson, which has committed to mapping school connectivity in 35 countries by the end of 2023, believes that this project will succeed in the goal of connecting over 2.1 million schools.
With the support of Ericsson and other partners 1,100,000 school locations across 50 countries (including Rwanda) have been mapped and more than 5,000 schools have been connected by Giga across 4 continents with more than 1,500 schools that have been connected in Rwanda, Kenya, and Sierra Leone.