South Africa's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is busy with the development of a 5G testbed. The CSIR says it is doing this to prepare for the advent of 5G technologies and to ensure that Afrika is able to adapt to the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The testbed is expected to be launched later in 2018 at the CSIR head office located at the City of Tshwane municipality.

“Knowledge and skills development is at the core of the CSIR’s investment in the 5G testbed. This testbed will assist South Africa and the rest of the continent to develop the necessary skills and to adopt the new 5G technologies. We want to provide practical and tested use cases for the next industrial revolution in the country,” said Sabelo Dlamini, Researcher at the CSIR.

The CSIR says that the testbed will aim to support research on key technology building blocks for 5G and support development and experimentation on use cases relevant to the Afrikan continent, in partnership with Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), the private sector and higher education institutions. Added to this, the testbed can be adopted by various stakeholders such as higher education entities, development agencies, funding agencies, state owned enterprises, and government departments.

“The principle of inclusivity is fundamental in ensuring that global humanity embraces the benefits of power of evolving technologies keeping the eyes on bridging the emerging digital divide. In most developing countries the majority of the workforce is low skilled. It is therefore very important to consider the potential impact of these new technologies that will provide platforms to build smart factories with plant automation, artificial intelligence and use of augmented reality to control stationary equipment such as welding, painting and assembly using robotic,” said Siyabonga Cwele, South Africa's Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services.

Cwele was speaking at the 40th Wireless World Research Forum (WWRF) meeting in Durban, which was held in partnership with the CSIR to discuss the role of 5G technologies to enable digital inclusion and industrialisation in Afrika.

“All these will require high speed, low latency, secure connectivity that is ubiquitous and highly reliable. This will offer a greatly improved mobile experience to citizens, and provide the platform for new services and applications in markets such as virtual reality and augmented reality,” concluded Cwele.