By now it’s presumed that you are aware of 5G, the next generation of wireless technology that takes over 4G. In Kenya, we are yet to see any commercial rollout except tests. Just like on the 4G rollout, Kenya’s biggest telco, Safaricom, will still lead the pack on 5G, unless otherwise.
The telco plans to roll out 5G later this year meaning contracts have to be offered for companies that are capable of building 5G infrastructure. Safaricom says they will contract Huawei to build their 5G infrastructure. As you might already know, Huawei has had its fair share of bad press coming from the US, over the security of their networking equipment.
The US argues that the Chinese government may use the company’s telco equipment for espionage. An allegation, the second-best-selling smartphone company, and the world’s largest telco equipment maker have continuously denied. Nonetheless, that hasn’t stopped the US from continually urging its allies to cut off trade ties with Huawei, especially on matters 5G.
To Kenya’s biggest telco, Safaricom, they will contract Huawei for 5G, according to the CEO.
“We will use Huawei in 5G … What will we do in terms of the American statements about not using Huawei? We don’t have that situation in Africa,” said now Acting CEO Michael Joseph.
Currently, Safaricom has been working with two companies – Huawei and Nokia – as their vendors for telco equipment.
Unlike Britain which moved forward to contract Huawei to supply equipment to be used in the outer-core of the network, Safaricom seems to be all in from this statement.
He further said they would follow footsteps of their two biggest shareholders: South Africa’s Vodacom and Britain’s Vodafone.
South Africa’s Vodacom is nearing 5G rollout already and is working with Liquid Telcom for that. Vodafone UK, on the other hand, already rolled out 5G in some parts of Britain.
Safaricom says 5G rollout will first begin in major cities with high demand – the same strategy used for 4G deployment in 2014.
Would this lead to a strenuous relationship with the US? Analysts think so.
Analysts have warned that the move will hamper the free trade agreement talks between Kenya and the US announced earlier this month.
Keep in mind the US has previously threatened to lay some restrictions to countries that won’t comply with their requests. China, on the other hand, has warned retaliation against countries that block Huawei. Exclude Kenya from that list considering the close ties between Kenya and China.