Safaricom uses equipment from Huawei and Nokia to power 5G network

Safaricom, Kenya’s largest telecoms operator, has used equipment from Huawei and Nokia to launch its 5G internet service on Thursday.
Safaricom 5G in KenyaSafaricom has used equipment from Nokia and Huawei to power its 5G network, becoming the first firm to deploy the technology commercially in East Africa.

Investments in the mobile sub-sector in Kenya grew by 12.41 percent to 51.6 billion Kenya shillings in 2021 from 45.9 billion Kenya shillings in 2020.

Safaricom, which is part-owned by South Africa’s Vodacom and Britain’s Vodafone, is initially offering Wi-Fi subscriptions first as it attempts to win more share in the fixed data market.

“We view 5G as being critical in delivering new solutions that will address economic development, healthcare, manufacturing, infrastructure and even delivery of government services,” said Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa at a launch ceremony for the network.

Safaricom dominates the mobile data market commanding about a 65 percent share in Kenya in 2021. Safaricom holds about a third of the fixed data market, data from the Communications Authority of Kenya showed.
Kenya mobile services marketWananchi Group has 27.9 percent, Jamii Telecommunications has 21.9 percent and Poa Internet Kenya has 10.3 percent share in the fixed data market in Kenya.

Besides the Wi-Fi market opportunity, the initial focus on 5G Wi-Fi rather than mobile is because there are relatively few 5G-compatible devices in Kenya.

Out of nearly 27 million smartphones in use in Kenya, only about 200,000 are 5G-compatible because of the high costs of such devices.

Prices are coming down quickly and companies such as Safaricom are expanding their financing models which should expand access.

Customers with compatible phones would be able to use the network soon, when it starts selling 5G data packages.

Safaricom has 35 active 5G sites in Nairobi and other major cities and it plans to increase that number to 200 by March next year. Safaricom started testing the network last year.