Accelerating connectivity

Zambia Is Africa’s Latest Market To Receive Commercial 5G

By  |  November 29, 2022

The Zambian unit of MTN, the largest mobile telecommunications services provider in Africa, has launched a commercial fifth-generation connectivity network, becoming the first operator to do so in the landlocked country at the crossroads of Central, Southern and East Africa. 

To offer its customers fast and uninterrupted internet speeds, MTN Zambia, the second-biggest telco in the market, joined hands with Chinese ICT giant Huawei; the project’s pilot phase took place last January. As Zambia’s first 5G rollout, it was celebrated with an event attended by senior MTN executives, federal ministers and President Hakainde Hichilema himself. 

At the unveiling, the president said the connectivity aligns with his administration’s undertakings to enable digitization, catch up with technology trends and transform the Zambian economy. According to him, the speeds realized from the network will change how business is conducted locally, improve communication and better service delivery. 

“The launch of this ultra-fast communication capacity serves as a clear indication of MTN’s commitment to being a major player in Zambia’s digital economy…we look forward to continuing to work together to meaningfully impact the growth and development of Zambia,” said Mcebisi Jonas, Chairman of the MTN Group.

After a 10-month testing period, MTN’s 5G services caters to about 65 percent of the population obtainable in cities like Lusaka, the country’s capital, Kitwe, Ndola, including parts of Chingola, Solwezi and Kalumbila, which is relatively 15 percent of the nation’s total populace. 

The operator’s aim is to hit 100 percent coverage specifically for Lusaka, Kitwe and Ndola by mid 2023, and gradually expand to other areas. 

Roughly 2 months back, the Nigerian unit of MTN [also] launched a 5G network, becoming the first in the West African country to deploy such technology. Before that, its 5G investments have prevailed in South Africa, the provider’s home market. 

Last month [October] Airtel Zambia, the second-biggest telco in the market, announced that it had spent USD 29 M on acquiring additional network spectrum from the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA). The spectrum would be used to pump up efforts to launch 5G; trials started in January. 

Airtel is Zambia’s biggest telco, with 7.9 million subscribers. MTN and Zamtel come in second and third place, with  7.1 million and 4.2 million subscribers, respectively. 6

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