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Namibia grants 5G licenses, Orange tests 5G in Sierra Leone

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There have been two major 5G developments in two African countries recently.

Firstly, the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) has awarded 5G licenses to Telecom Namibia Limited, Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTC) and Loc8 Mobile.

Secondly, Orange Sierra Leone has announced that it is piloting 5G services in the country's capital city Freetown.

CRAN's announcement follows a spectrum auction which generated approximately 28.5 million Namibian dollars (US$1.9 million). The auction process kicked off In February 2023.

"The award of these spectrum licenses to rollout 4G and 5G services is aimed at supporting the rollout of emerging mobile technologies while supporting both universal access in rural areas and providing for the inclusivity of all Namibians to foster participation in the digital economy going forward," said CRAN CEO Emilia Nghikembua.

She added that CRAN imposed license conditions on successful bidders to increase 4G population coverage in the Namibian regions of Kunene, Zambezi, Otjozondjupa, Omaheke, Hardap, and Kavango West.

"This award is an important milestone in CRAN's vision to improve access to telecommunications services in Namibia and is a right step towards the attainment of the fourth industrial revolution," she continued.

The regulator added that the licensees will make use of the assigned frequencies 703-788 MHz and 790-862 MHz to provide international mobile services, maintaining a downlink data speed of not less than 20 Mbit/s and in compliance with the quality of service (QoS) regulations.

The spectrum license is valid for 10 years and is subject to renewal for a similar period or even cancelled or transferred in relation to the regulations.

Loc8 Mobile, which is an Internet service provider, secured Lot A of spectrum, for NAD5.12 million ($343,844) with a reserve price of NAD4.39 million ($288,776).

Telecom Namibia on the other hand secured Lot B, the biggest Lot of spectrum, for NAD15.42 million ($1.04 million) bidding much higher than the reserve price of NAD5.12 million ($343,844).

Namibia's biggest mobile operator MTC won Lot C at an auction price of NAD8 million ($537,257), higher than the reserved price of NAD6.51 million ($437,193).

CRAN has also approved the testing/trial for 5G services for a period of three months until December 31, 2023.

Orange pilots 5G in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leoneans in the country's capital will soon be able to test 5G services, with mobile operator Orange announcing that it is piloting 5G in Freetown's central business district (CBD).

"This launch is indeed a milestone for Sierra Leone and I am delighted that Orange Sierra Leone is taking the lead in setting the basic technology standard for 5G by deploying this pilot phase across our network," said Sekou Drame, CEO of Sonatel, which is the parent company of Orange Sierra Leone.

To increase the speed of fixed wireless access and mobile broadband, the telco will test some 5G use cases.

Orange Sierra Leone is piloting 5G services in Freetown's central business district.   (Source: Image by starline on Freepik).
Orange Sierra Leone is piloting 5G services in Freetown's central business district.
(Source: Image by starline on Freepik).

The announcement comes after Orange Sierra Leone completed the necessary infrastructure to trial 5G service at the approved locations specified by a license granted by the country's regulator.

5G growing in Africa

5G rollouts are becoming commonplace in Africa, with Ethiopian state-owned telecom operator Ethio Telecom launching commercial 5G services just last month.

The Ethio Telecom launch comes on the back of Emtel becoming the second telco to launch 5G services in the island nation of Mauritius in August 2023.

This came on the heels of recent launches by MTN and Airtel in Uganda and Airtel in Zambia in August 2023.

Related posts:

*Top image source: Image by wirestock on Freepik

— Matshepo Sehloho, Associate Editor, Connecting Africa

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