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SAFARICOM GOES COMMERCIAL WITH 5G IN KENYA
In April 2019, South Korea became the first country in the world to launch 5G. The world followed, and Africa did too, at its usual slow pace.
Two years later, 14 out of 54 African countries have attempted to make 5G a reality in their country, but only 5 have been able to fully roll out 5G.
Now, Kenya is one of the narrower pool of African countries—and the first in East Africa— that have launched 5G services commercially, thanks to Safaricom, the country’s leading telco.
A speed come true in Kenya
Safaricom’s trials for 5G in Kenya started in March 2021, piloting in select Kenyan cities, including Nairobi, Kisii, Kisumu, and Kakamega. The trials aimed to establish if the network can offer speeds of up to 700 Mbps, a modest speed compared to what it is promising post-launch.
Now, after an October 7 launch, Safaricom promises to offer speeds of more than 1000Mbps as it expands to more than 200 sites across nine towns by March 2023
Safaricom’s 5G is pro-WiFi
Mobile data users in Kenya will have to wait their turn as Safaricom only launching 5G on its WiFi service.
Why? The telco is trying to drive competition in the fixed internet market, where it holds only about a third of the market share, in sharp contrast to its mobile money dominance.
Also, Safaricom highlighted that 5G-enabled phones are not common in Kenya because of their relatively high costs, justifying its pro-WiFi model.