Africa has not been quick to adopt 5G, the 5th generation mobile network. The new global wireless standard after 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G networks which enables a new kind of network that is designed to connect virtually everyone and everything together including machines, objects, and devices.
This is due to infrastructure challenges, adoption issues, the expensive nature of the technology and the devices needed to utilize it, and even safety concerns around 5G.
However, analysts predict that 5G could add an additional $2.2-trillion to Africa’s economy by 2034.
Right now, many African countries are currently testing 5G, However only a few have successfully launched the technology in a commercial nature.
Here are 5 African Countries That Have Launched 5G So Far
- South Africa
South Africa was the continent’s earliest adopter of 5G services, rolling out the technology in 2020 on a temporary spectrum.
Zimbabwean telecom Econet announced in February that it had launched the country’s first 5G network. The country has 10 active 5G sites situated in and around Harare, the country’s capital city.
The islands of Seychelles launched 5G in November 2020, in 2021, six regions across Seychelles recorded internet speeds faster than 1.2Gbps from certain 5G providers.
On 25 February Botswana telecom Mascom launched 5G in 4 sites in Gaborone, with plans to build 100 more stations by the end of 2022.
On 9 May Ethiopia announced that it was launching trials for its first 5G mobile network in its capital. Ethio Telecom launched 5G services in Addis Ababa earlier this month.
These are the countries currently testing or are planning the launch of 5G services:
MTN Ghana announced last year that it plans to bring commercial 5G services to Ghana in 2023.
Uganda was the first East African country to begin testing the rolling out of 5G technology in January 2020, but the country has yet to commercially launch 5G.
Senegal has been conducting 5G tests since November 2020 with Sonatel and Orange Senegal spearheading on the trials front in the Dakar region. Commercial 5G services have yet to launch.
Africa’s largest economy and most populous country issued spectrum licenses for 5G services in March. Now the country seems poised to launch its first commercial 5G services in August of this year.
The islands of Mauritius announced commercial 5G deployment would cover 4 zones in July 2021 via Mauritius Telecom. It is yet to launch commercially.
The country of Madagascar launched its first commercial 5G network in July 2020 through Telma. However just three weeks after the first announcements were made Madagascar’s Agency for Regulation of Technology and Communication ordered the telco to put its 5G plans on hold.
The tiny country of Lesotho has faced a distinct back and forth when it comes to its commercial 5G rollout since 2018 when the Lesotho government gave Vodacom a temporary spectrum to run trials with the technology. 5G is yet to launch.
East Africa’s economic powerhouse has been testing 5G tech for over a year now. The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) says it will start to hand over 5G licenses to the first mobile network operators by December 2022.
EDIT: Safaricom officially launched Safaricom 5G for commercial use in Kenya in October 2022
Gabon has been testing 5G technology since 2019 but the country’s leading telco Gabon Telecom is eyeing 2023 for commercial launch.
Orange Egypt received spectrum from the Egyptian government to begin testing 5G services and networks, along with the likes of Vodafone Egypt, Egypt Telecom, and E& Egypt. 5G trials are still ongoing.