GSMA THRIVE AFRICA 2020: Mats Granryd, director general of the GSMA (pictured), revealed plans to bring the company’s popular MWC series to Africa in 2021, which he backed to become the continent’s most influential technology event.

It is scheduled to take place in Rwandan capital Kigali from 28 to 30 September 2021.

In a keynote to open the Thrive Africa event, Granryd said MWC Africa will bring together a range of leaders spanning policy makers, CEOs and inventors, with a focus on the future of connectivity goals of the continent.

MWC Africa will be the fourth instalment of MWC, adding to the flagship event in Barcelona, along with Shanghai and Los Angeles.

The future was also very much a theme during Granryd’s talk.

He backed Africa to reach several important mobile milestones over the next five years. These include projections for 50 per cent of total connections to be on smartphones by the end of this year, half a billion mobile subscribers in 2021, and 1 billion mobile connections by 2024.

Advances in the region have been made possible by the continual investment of mobile operators in network infrastructure, Granryd added, which is expected to total $52 billion between 2019 and 2025.

He added the near-term focus was still on increasing 4G uptake in sub-Saharan Africa, while 5G has also recently launched in South Africa, with trials underway in Gabon, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda.

Granryd also used the keynote to reiterate the importance of “robust and resilient” mobile networks during the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.