Safaricom Rolls Out East Africa’s First 5G Network

Safaricom shares have again hit an all time high at the bourse trading at Ksh 45 during Tuesday's session.

Safaricom Branch along Kenyatta Avenue PHOTO: KHUSOKO

Kenya’s biggest telecoms operator Safaricom has pioneered the 5G network in East Africa, “critical in delivering new solutions” the telco said.

Safaricom said it has commenced trials for 5G with both individual and enterprise customers in Nairobi, Kisumu, Kisii and Kakamega.

As part of its trial, the company plans to expand the number of such 5G sites to more than 150 across nine towns over the next 12 months.

The new 5G network will give consumers internet speeds of 700 megabits per second, more than three times faster than the current 4G network.

The 5G technology will be supplied by Nokia Corporation and Huawei.

“The 5G network heralds the era of intelligent connectivity and will be a key driver of this strategy by enabling us to build on the investments and successes of the last two decades to catapult Safaricom to the next level as we enable digital lifestyles of Kenyans,” said Mr Peter Ndegwa, the chief executive officer.

“The next phase of our journey, which is to become a purpose-led technology company by 2025, will see us go beyond for our customers to continue driving innovation in ecosystems such as health, education, agriculture, financial services and enabling SMEs using technology.”

Nokia Corporation’s 5G Single Radio Access Network (SRAN) technology and 5G FastMile gateways will enable ultra-fast Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) services to Safaricom’s subscribers across Kisumu and the Western Province of Kenya.

Amr K. El Leithy, SVP, Middle East and Africa Market, Nokia, said: “With over 200 commercial 5G agreements with leading customers across the globe, Nokia has been bringing 5G network to every part of the world. Our 5G network for Safaricom is a key part of this journey and we are committed to working with the operator to transform the communications landscape in the country. This will open new business opportunities for Safaricom.”

ICT Secretary Joe Mucheru said the new network will enable the leading telco roll out newer services needed in the local economy.

“The launch of 5G by Safaricom dovetails into the government’s efforts, what the citizens need, and the current trend world order…Other than telemedicine, other sectors have also embraced technology-enabled platforms for business continuity,” he said.

Communications Authority acting director-general Mercy Wanjau noted that the new network will propel existing businesses and open up more opportunities for Kenyans.

“The deployment of 5G will go a long way in supporting the government’s plan of rolling out broadband connectivity in the country. Indeed, the potential for the absorption of 5G technology in Kenya’s social and economic ecosystem cannot be gainsaid. The deployment of 5G which offers extremely fast download and upload speeds will thus present a myriad of opportunities for all sectors of our economies,” she said.

Ms Wanjau further said the technology being used had passed through the necessary quality and safety tests internationally.

“I want to assure Kenyans that the technology is safe as the 5G standards have been developed through rigorous processes at the international telecommunications union and other relevant UN and global standards-setting agencies in partnership with the industry,” she said.