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Nokia announced research that forecasts 5G subscriptions reaching 263 million in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region by 2026. The 5G subscription growth will primarily be in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain. Additionally, subscribers in South Africa, Nigeria and North African countries will increase adoption following the release of new spectrum. This trend is triggered by the increasing use of high-bandwidth consumer applications and industrial use cases.

The Nokia MEA Broadband Index Report - I provides valuable insight, data and analysis on mobile broadband subscribers, coverage, ARPU and traffic growth in the MEA region, as well its respective sub-regions: GCC, Southern Africa, North Africa, Middle East, and Central East West Africa. The report has been created based on Nokia’s internal intelligence, as well as data from third-party sources, GlobalData and Tutela.

In GCC countries, 5G technology will dominate, with the subscriber base reaching 64 % of the total and with data traffic likely to surpass 70 % by 2026, according to the study.

In Africa, 5G technology adoption will grow steadily, driven by the evolution of the device ecosystem and 5G spectrum allocations in many countries. While 4G subscribers in the Southern Africa region are projected to reach 105 million (58 % of total subscribers) by 2026, 5G will contribute more than one-fifth of data traffic in the same time frame.

North African operators have seen a high demand for mobile broadband, and the region is expected to have a 20 % increase in total subscribers by 2026, compared to 2022. In Central East West Africa, today more than 60 % of the total data traffic is carried by 4G. This traffic is expected to grow four times over the next four years. At the same time, 5G subscriptions are expected to account for nearly 10 % of the total mobile subscribers in this period.

The study also reveals that 5G and 4G together are expected to drive more than 90 % of data traffic in MEA. Total data traffic is expected to increase significantly in the next four years, with a compound annual growth rate of 35 %.

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