On Monday, state-owned telecoms Ethio Telecoms announced that it had piloted 5G service tests across the country’s capital, Addis Ababa. Ethio Telecoms will be the first to pilot 5G in Ethiopia, beating out Kenyan Safaricom which was only granted its operating license in July 2021.
The 5G service was developed by Huawei Technologies, a China-based firm, and is reported to have cost $40 million.
Similar to other countries that have launched 5G, Ethiopia’s launch is only available in select locations in Addis for now as the telecoms is still testing the spectrum.
“The 5G service is launched in selected places in Addis Ababa. In the coming 12 months, we will have 150 5G sites in Addis Ababa and in major cities outside the capital,” said Frehiwot Tamru, CEO of Ethio Telecoms.
The 5G service is reputed to run at a speed that is five times that of the 4G service, making internet connectivity much more rapid.
Ethiopia is not the first country to roll out 5G.
Globally, at least 81 countries—outside Africa—have 5G service available in certain regions. In Africa, at least 18 countries are testing out 5G or have plans to launch it, and 6 countries—South Africa, Kenya, Mauritius, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Seychelles—have launched 5G. Ethiopia will be the seventh.
And Nigeria may be 8th. After running tests, both MTN and Mafab—having recently acquired their operating licenses—announced that 5G service rollout in Nigeria will kick off in August 2022.
In Africa, 5G service adoption stands at 4%, and this isn’t surprising considering the financial requirements involved in setting the service up. Presently, only 1% of mobile connections on the continent are 5G, but experts predict that the rate will reach 7% by 2026.