Safaricom Launches East Africa’s First 5G Network in Kenya

Safaricom yesterday launched its 5G network in Kenya. With this move, Safaricom becomes the first Telco to bring 5G to the masses. Arguably, this also makes them the first in East Africa. This is because last year, MTN Uganda in partnership with Chinese ZTE announced trials for 5G in that country. Unlike MTN Uganda, Safaricom’s 5G is ready and open to use in certain locations already provided you have the right equipment.

With this new mobile network generation, Safaricom is partnering with both Finnish Company Nokia and Chinese Company Huawei who will provide the necessary infrastructure for the network. We’ve known for a while that Safaricom was partnering with Huawei for 5G, as Huawei has also provided the company with most of its previous gadgets and infrastructure. However, this is the first time we’re hearing of a Nokia-Safaricom 5G deal. Locally, Nokia already has a deal with Airtel Kenya to not only improve the company’s existing networks but to also lay the foundation for 5G.

The launch was very unexpected. This is because a couple of weeks ago, Safaricom was said to have put 5G on hold with no launch plans in the near future. The CEO was quoted as saying, “…in terms of immediacy, we are not intending at this stage to go big on 5G in the near term.” That was two months ago, and here we are with the company now seemingly going all-in on 5G.


The service was launched in Nairobi, Western Kenya on Friday, 26th March 2021


According to techweez, Kenya’s tech based website, for now, 5G will be availed to customers by Safaricom


5G standards are provided in two standards/frequency groups; at 450 MHz – 6 GHz and at 24 GHz – 52 GHz. The majority of the deployment is at the 450 MHz – 6 GHz frequency, which is what we suspect Safaricom will use.

At the moment, researchers are hard at work figuring out how to deploy 24 GHz – 52 GHz, also known as mmWave, efficiently.


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