The 7th Sub-Sahara Spectrum Management Conference will take place in a hybrid format on 3 & 4 November 2022 in Cape Town, South Africa. Registration is now open to attend virtually and in-person.
You are also able to register your interest to attend an ITU workshop on Spectrum Monitoring taking place on 1-2 November.
The event will gather key stakeholders to discuss topical issues relating to the management and coordination of spectrum policy across the region. During the 2 days attendees will have the opportunity to get involved and engage through interactive sessions, networking opportunities, exhibition area and much more.
The conference is part of The Global Spectrum Series. The world’s largest collection of regional spectrum policy conferences
All times in the agenda are in South Africa Standard Time (SAST)
To help set the scene for the event and identify some concrete aims and objectives, keynote speakers will be asked as part of their presentation to give an overview of what they see as the key spectrum challenges and opportunities for the region; and on what they feel should be the spectrum targets for the region in the short, medium and long term. These presentations will then be followed by an interactive voting session, where both in-person and virtual attendees will be asked to add their thoughts on these 2 questions, before a panel discussion involving key industry and policy voices is held to address the points that have been raised, and to look at the best way forward to deliver a spectrum strategy that works for Africa.
Despite the challenging environment created by the global pandemic, preparations for WRC-23 are progressing well. Both within Africa and elsewhere in Region 1, positions are starting to emerge and good progress on preparatory studies is being seen. And now, less than a month after this event, the second inter-regional workshop is due to be held, providing the latest opportunity for different regions to come together to discuss these emerging positions. This session will provide the opportunity to take stock in the build-up to that meeting and at the progress on preparation that is being made both in Africa and elsewhere. As we move towards the final year of preparation for WRC-23, it will discuss the challenges ahead and the work that still needs to be done to ensure a successful outcome for WRC-23 for the Sub-Sahara region and more broadly.
At each of the last 4 editions of this conference, a session has been held that has charted the progress, challenges and opportunities as Sub-Sahara embarks on the path to 5G and looks to deliver a harmonized continental strategy that will help to unleash its true potential. Continuing the discussion, this session will look at the work that has taken place over the last 12 months to build on crucial policy recommendations that were set out last year by ATU, and the work that is being done at a regional level by the African Union Commission. With 5G now a reality in Africa and networks starting to be rolled out across countries including Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria, how can the goal of regional harmonisation be achieved, and what impact can this have on laying the ground for the full potential of 5G to be seen?
The process of bringing spectrum to market is not a simple one, and there are many different elements for regulators to consider when looking to design a process for assigning spectrum licences that ensures an efficient allocation of the available bandwidth at a fair price; and ultimately delivers a competitive market and encourages innovation. With a number of successful awards having taken place recently in the region, this session will provide the opportunity to look back at these and at the approaches that were taken. It will then move on to look more broadly at the different options that are available to regulators when looking at setting spectrum prices and designing award mechanisms, and at what needs to be done in order to ensure a successful outcome. Focussing on the importance of planning ahead and the role that the provision of a roadmap for spectrum release can play in helping to provide regulatory certainty and promote investment and innovation, it will look to the future and at what needs to be done to ensure that the full value of spectrum that is made available can be harnessed as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
Closing the digital divide and ensuring that citizens across Africa have reliable access to fast, reliable and affordable broadband services has been a long-standing challenge for regulators across the region. Progress in this area is undoubtably being seen, and according to the ITU, the number of people across Africa with access to broadband grew 2690% from 2010-2020 (admittedly from a very low base), with the price of access to connectivity in the region falling more than in any other region for the same period. However, there is still an extremely long way to go and much work still to be done. This session will look at the approaches that are being seen in different countries across the region, and explore the solutions that have provided the greatest level of success. It will explore recent advancements in technologies such as fixed wireless access and advanced satellite systems, and the role that these can play in delivering a solution, and the way in which industry and regulators can come together in advancing the accessibility of broadband in many parts of Africa is attributable both to the investment and business activity of the private sector as well as the policy and regulatory environment created by the authorities.
The 3.4GHz-3.6GHz portion of the C-band has been allocated to mobile on a primary basis across Africa and many other regions of the world. The future of the 3.3GHz-3.4GHz and part thereof the 3.6GHz-3.8GHz portion of the band are however still hotly contested, and due to be discussed in detail at WRC-23. Regulators and policymakers tasked to make a decision on this highly sought after spectrum are faced with the question of where the balance lies when looking to meet the needs of both mobile and satellite in a band that both see as vital to their future. This session will explore the work being done in this area both ahead of WRC-23 and more broadly, and the positions that are emerging. It will look at the extent to which it is important that a harmonised approach is achieved both within the Africa and across region 1, as well as discussing the possibility of co-existence between mobile and satellite in the band, and the extent to which new emerging technologies could help to make this a more realistic option.
Back in 2013, an agreement was signed by 47 Sub-Saharan African countries to turn off broadcasting signals in the 700 MHz and 800 MHz bands by June 2015. At the time, this was hailed as a “landmark agreement that would make Africa the first region to be in position to allocate spectrum in the 700 MHz and 800 MHz digital dividend bands to mobile services”. We are now 7 years on from this deadline however, this objective of digital switchover has still not been achieved in many countries. And the situation often remains complex, with legal challenges amongst a number of other factors that is blocking progress across different countries. This session will look at the factors that have contributed to this continued delay in switchover and the challenges that still need to be overcome in order to finally be able to move forward. Looking wider across the UHF band, it will also build on the discussions that took place in the WRC-23 panel discussion earlier today, to explore the work that is being done to look at the future of the 470-694 MHz band, and the overall use and needs of existing services across the entire 470-960 MHz range. What does the future hold for the key users across the UHF frequencies, and how can it be ensured that the potential of spectrum in these frequencies is maximised for the benefit of all?
In July last year, a recommendation was made by ATU to enable licence-exempt technologies to operate in the lower 6 GHz (5925-6425 MHz) band, but the debate surrounding the future of the upper portion of the band (6425-7125 MHz) and the overall balance of unlicensed and licensed services in the band continues to at pace. It is due to be discussed in detail at WRC-23 (following a recommendation from the African delegation at WRC-19), and positions both in Africa and elsewhere around the world are starting to emerge ahead of this. With the IMT community seeing the band as the ideal substitute in areas that it is challenging to clear the 3.5 GHz band, and the WiFi community argue that making it available on a licence-exempt basis is vital to help addressing the digital divide, improving rural connectivity and accelerate economic innovation, this session will look at the arguments on both sides, and at where the balance of licenced and licence-exempt use across the 6Ghz band should lie.
ITU and Forum Global will be running a fellowship scheme for both the ITU Workshop and the Sub Sahara Spectrum Management Conference. Fellowship applications will be open to eligible Administrations in the Sub Sahara region. If you are interested to be kept informed about this when we have more information please get in touch.
For 7 years, The Sub-Sahara Spectrum Management Conference has provided the leading neutral platform for spectrum stakeholders policy discussion in the region. This event is taking place as part of The Global Spectrum Series.
The Global Spectrum Series is the world’s largest collection of regional spectrum policy conferences.
The Sub Sahara Spectrum Management Conference is now in its 7th year. The 2021 edition welcomed over 700 delegates virtually. More information on this event and links to catch up sessions can be found below.
Taj Hotel Cape Town
1 Waal Straat, Corner St Georges Mall
Cape Town City Centre
Cape Town, 8000