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TELECOM ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE USE CASES IN AFRICA

The deployment of AI on the continent of Africa, in the coming years, will have to overcome a number of market and societal barriers to see the potential of artificial intelligence fully realised.

Omdia estimates that spending on AI-driven software for telecom use cases in Africa will grow from $4.4 million in 2018 to more than $265 million in 2025.

The deployment of AI on the continent of Africa, in the coming years, will have to overcome a number of market and societal barriers to see the potential of artificial intelligence fully realised.


The telecommunications industry is a capital-intensive business with high fixed costs, which puts pressure on communications service providers (CSPs) to control variable costs, particularly human capital. While this has always been an issue, it has gotten worse recently.

Tom Nolle of CIMI Corporation estimates that many CSPs crossed the point where revenue per bit is lower than cost per bit in 2017. Threatened by fast and highly-efficient web-scale companies, CSPs are straining under the challenge posed by digital transformation. On top of that, they must solve how to profitably manage and operate the dizzyingly complex 5G networks. Internet of Things (IoT) use cases, ranging from autonomous cars and industrial sensors to smart cities, create a multiplier effect for network complexity.

It is an industry ripe for artificial intelligence (AI)-driven solutions, with their promise of lowering costs and boosting efficiencies through automation. Many telecom operators have begun to experiment and deploy AI-driven solutions in both customer-facing and internal organizations. Omdia has identified seven key telecom AI use cases: network operations monitoring and management, predictive maintenance, fraud mitigation, cybersecurity, customer service and marketing virtual digital assistants (VDAs), intelligent customer relationship management (CRM) systems, and customer experience management (CEM). This white paper provides details about these telecom AI use cases in Africa.

The emergence of these telecom AI use cases will vary across the globe. The primary drivers for AI in telecom—cost savings from replacing or enhancing human workers and the rollout of 5G networks—are not immediate needs for CSPs in Africa. Barriers, such as the lack of reliable, consistent power and limited per-capita income are present in Africa. Due to less intense pressure from the market drivers and the force of the market barriers, the rollout and spending on AI-driven solutions in Africa will lag behind other regions.

Nevertheless, Omdia estimates that spending on AI-driven software for telecom use cases in Africa will grow from $4.4 million in 2018 to more than $265 million in 2025.