Kenya’s Safaricom Suspends its 5G Rollout, Doubles Down on 4G instead
Leading Kenyan telco, Safaricom, said it will suspend its planned 5G rollout and focus instead on connecting more customers to its 4G network.
This is in line with Safaricom’s initial plan to guarantee 100% 4G network connectivity throughout Kenyan by March 2021. At the moment, the telco has actualised 77% 4G network coverage across the East African country, according to figures obtained from its recent annual financial statement. The company’s 3G network also covers 94% of the population.
Safaricom, which is the largest telecom operator in Kenya, had recently disclosed ongoing plans to launch its 5G network in major Kenyan towns and cities. However, that plan had to be called off abruptly, with no plans to launch anything in the short term. The company’s Chief Executive Officer, Peter Ndegwa, put it this way: “We have tested it (5G) in this country. We will go through conversations around spectrum with government in the background. But in terms of immediacy, we are not intending at this stage to go big on 5G in the near term.”
Analysts had expected that the 5G network launch would have enabled Safaricom to further consolidate on its leadership position in the Kenyan telecom industry; especially now that the company is experiencing slower revenue growth in the voice segment of its business due to increasing reliance on data services by customers.
Safaricom did not exactly disclose why it was suspending the planned 5G network rollout or when it intends to finally launch it. However, it may not be anything time. Across much of Africa, 5G network is still a rare phenomenon. And this is mainly due to the fact that it costs a lot of money to put the superfast network together. The high costs may eve be one of the reasons the company has decided to suspend the project for the meantime.
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