Africa stands at a pivotal moment as the uptake of connectivity services skyrockets, driven by its vast and youthful population. The continent's six major operator groups—Airtel Africa, Axian Telecom, Ethio Telecom, MTN, Orange, and Vodacom—are leading the charge, joining forces to forge closer collaborations with governments.

Under the leadership of the GSMA, these telecom giants inked an agreement aimed at aligning strategies with governmental policies in crucial areas like taxation, regulation, and energy. Despite investing billions annually in infrastructure, the daunting challenge of connecting all 1.1 billion Africans remains.

While significant progress has been made, over 680 million people lack mobile broadband access despite coverage. The World Bank estimates an additional $100 billion is needed for universal connectivity. Angela Wamola of the GSMA predicts a quadruple increase in data usage, highlighting the imminent need for energy infrastructure upgrades to meet growing demands, especially with the advent of AI.

However, rural coverage remains a hurdle due to the lack of viable business cases. Airtel Africa's Daddy Bujitu Mukadi stresses the importance of collaborative solutions between operators and governments to address this gap. Affordability is another issue, prompting the 'Big 6' to advocate for a revamped taxation model to reduce costs for consumers.

Energy scarcity poses another challenge, with MTN's Nompilo Morafo calling for collective action to bridge the gap. As Africa embraces digital identity and mobile money platforms, governments are increasingly recognizing the transformative potential of connectivity.

With Sub-Saharan Africa’s ‘Magnificent 6’ ready to join hands and take on these key challenges together, it can only benefit the over one billion people in Africa who should not be left behind in the expansion of this exciting technological age. 

Governments must work closely with operators to elevate not only their economies but also their people, who deserve the quality and widespread connectivity that we in the west take for granted.

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