By TESFA-ALEM TEKLE
Friday May 13, 2022
Ethio Telecom, the state-owned telecom service provider in
Ethiopia, on Monday launched 5G mobile phone service making Ethiopia among the
leading few African countries, including Kenya in eastern Africa, to roll out
According to Ethio Telecom, the network will be available on
hotspot areas in the capital Addis Ababa, including in the area around Ethio
Telecom’s head office and at the premises of Bole International Airport, before
being expanded to cover other parts of the country.
“The 5G service is launched in selected places in Addis
Ababa,” Ethio Telecom CEO Frehiwot Tamru announced during a launch ceremony.
“In the coming 12 months, we will have 150 5G sites in Addis
Ababa and in major cities outside the capital.”
5G commercial networks have been launched in key countries
such as Botswana, South Africa, Seychelles, Mauritius and Zimbabwe, but the
technology remains largely underdeveloped in larger parts of Africa.
The EastAfrican has learnt that Ethiopia has paid about $40
million to China’s Huawei company to deploy the network.
Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country, introduced
third-generation (3G) and fourth-generation (4G) in 2007 and 2015,
At the East Africa Com event opened virtually on May 10, it
was disclosed that 5G connectivity in Africa is on the rise but still lagging
behind 3G and 4G networks.
Despite expected growth over the next five years, 5G
subscriptions will not exceed 20 million in Africa by 2026, according to
Omdia’s Senior ICT research analyst, Thecla Mbongue.
Omdia is a research and advisory group.
Ms Mbongue says 5G will represent less than10 per cent of
the continent’s mobile usage by 2025.
During the virtual event, Kenechi Okeleke, director for
social and regional research at the Global System for Mobile Communications
Association (GSMA), said work has been done in Kenya to deploy the network.
Mobile network operator Safaricom launched its 5G network in
March 2021, trialling the tech in four towns with plans to expand it to others.
“Perhaps next year we could see full commercial 5G services
in Kenya,” the research director said.
Omdia forecasts that the number of 5G mobile subscriptions
in Kenya will grow from 1.1 million at end-2022 to 12.8 million by 2026.
“The strong growth will be supported by demand for
high-speed and low-latency broadband services across key sectors of the
economy, including health, education, agriculture, manufacturing, mining,
construction, smart city and transportation and tourism,” Omdia said.
Describing 5G growth in Africa as “a mixed bag”, Mr Okeleke
suggested that the Covid pandemic had showed the need for enhanced connectivity
and driven demand for connectivity.
“Actual network launches have been slow; we have not seen
the number of deployments we wished we had seen,” he added.
At the event, experts noted that the east African economy
would greatly benefit from the advances that 5G would bring to several sectors,
including in agriculture, and called on governments to support 5G infrastructure
5G network is currently the fastest and most robust
technologies the world has ever seen.
The network offers data speeds up to 100 times faster than