African countries press ahead with 5G launch despite personnel shortages
London, Jan. 4, 2021 (AltAfrica)-While several African countries have launched tests for the implementation of 5G, concerns remain about the ability of workers to keep up with this revolutionary technology.
In Senegal, Algeria and Nigeria, where 5G network infrastructure is hot topic, the subject of training is not very present in the debates.
On November 24, 2020, Senegal made its first test for the launch of 5G. The National Telecommunications Company of Senegal (SONATEL), majority owned by the French group Orange, led the operations.
If at this level efforts have been concentrated on equipment and technologies, certain aspects are still blocking it. One of the points raised by the Sonatel Workers’ Union is the lack of human resource training.
Babacar Sarr, general secretary of the union, noted during a recent meeting of this association that the lack of skills is the first challenge of the workers of Sonatel.
“What concerns us, us employees, is that the personnel have not been trained in the technique of 5G. It’s a big problem. We needed the support of another operator or equipment manufacturer to be able to do this test. There is a need to review and ensure that operators have this internal competence to carry out the activity, to give us the possibility of benefiting from the qualities of 5G which is a new technology ”, he said. declared.
Before Senegal, other countries on the continent have experimented with 5G.
In Algeria, the concerns regarding the training of human resources are the same. Here, the higher education programs have not yet been updated.
Only lessons on 3 and 4G are included in the programs, especially in the Master’s cycle. A situation that challenges Algerian academics. They have led an advocacy to integrate 5G courses in universities. They intend to take advantage of the revision of the programs which must by law be done in 2021.
Nigeria, the continent’s leading economic power, is doing no better. Here too, training is a subject that is not very present in the debate on the deployment of 5G, which for the moment revolves around equipment and infrastructure.
However, progress has been noted in some countries on the continent. This is the case in Morocco, where the Chinese technology company Huawei has signed agreements with 8 Moroccan universities for the training of 12,000 students in three years.
The Chinese group has also launched similar training courses in South Africa, one of the most advanced African countries in the implementation of 5G.
Although these latter examples illustrate training efforts in some countries, in general, upgrading workers’ skills is not a priority in Africa.
Yet, in a 2018 report titled Getting Ready for 5G: Preparing a Skilled Workforce for Future Wireless Networks , the Wireless Infrastructure Association, a global consortium of mobile operators, infrastructure providers and professional service companies, had already identified the quality of the human resource as an essential aspect in the proper appropriation of this technology.
Beyond the need to train workers in 5G, the report calls for a general change in training in all other areas that will be impacted by this technology. Indeed, 5G brings with it changes in the job market, following the many technological advances it will induce: Internet of things, autonomous vehicles, etc.