Ayanda Mdluli

The demand for electronic test equipment in the telecoms sector is on an upward trend due to efforts by industry players to widen coverage across Africa and upgrade second- and third-generation networks to fourth-generation (4G) technology.

Research by Frost & Sullivan shows telecoms operators are increasingly looking for spectrum analysers to test and validate their cellular networks to improve the quality of their services as signal strength in Africa tends to be poor.

South African cellular operators are looking to benefit when the Independent Communications Authority of SA allocates new spectrum that would facilitate the roll-out of their 4G networks.

The consolidation of the telecoms market by giants such as Vodacom, Telkom and MTN will create a platform where companies will be able to offer converged services, using spectrum more effectively and becoming more cost efficient.

The research found that Africa’s market for test equipment was worth $28.3 million (R304m) last year and estimates this will reach $47.5m in 2019. The study covers oscilloscopes, spectrum analysers, network analysers, multimeters, signal generators, power meters, electronic counters, logic analysers and arbitrary waveform generators.

Janani Balasundar, Frost & Sullivan’s measurement and instrumentation research analyst, says: “The growing demand for oscilloscopes, signal generators, and spectrum analysers in the education sector is lending momentum to the market. Market participants should roll out comprehensive electronic test equipment with multiple functionalities to cater to the needs of technical research and PhD students.”

According to Balasundar, security investments in the aerospace and defence industry – the largest end user of spectrum analysers for frequency-monitoring applications, network analysers, signal generators, and power meters – are also growing the market.

“Heavy infrastructural investments in other industries are also fuelling the uptake of multimeters and boosting prospects for electronic test equipment manufacturers.”

However, she explained, the poor economic condition and unstable currency of South Africa, a trading partner to several neighbouring sub-Saharan countries, was delaying projects and slowing down the growth of the electronic test equipment market in all of these countries.

“Electronic test equipment vendors should focus on fast-developing countries like Ghana and Nigeria, where there is great market potential.

“They must also constantly make end users aware of the latest technologies in the test and measurement industry to strengthen their market position across Africa.”