Zimbabwean operator Econet Wireless and Botswana’s Mascom have this week both announced 5G launches that are to begin in their countries' capital cities.
In Zimbabwe, local news service The Herald reports that Econet Wireless has launched 5G mobile broadband technology in partnership with infrastructure suppliers Ericsson and ZTE. Not too surprisingly, given that Econet is Zimbabwe’s largest telecommunications company, this makes it the first mobile operator to offer the service in the country.
The rollout will begin in Harare. Econet plans to roll out 5G to the rest of Zimbabwe during the course of the year.
Reports link the announcement with the fact that the company has been allocated test spectrum for 5G technology services in multiple bands by the Postal and Telecommunications Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ). It’s not clear therefore what this means for mass-market services or official spectrum allocation.
That said, the announcement justified a launch event in Harare at which Econet chief executive Dr Douglas Mboweni said the rollout was an important milestone for the company and was a critical enabler for Zimbabwe’s drive towards a fully digital economy.
POTRAZ director-general Dr Gift Machengete commended Econet for bringing 5G to the Zimbabwean market at a time when demand for data and telecom services remained very high. However, he added the telling point that for the country to enjoy the full benefits of 5G the telecommunications sector will require foreign currency support for network expansion and to procure critical core network software.
Meanwhile neighbouring Botswana has celebrated a similar milestone with the news that Mascom Botswana has launched its first 5G services in the capital Gaborone. According to TeleGeography's CommsUpdate the operator plans to install 5G at 111 sites across the country by the end of the year.
The country’s Minister of Transport and Communications Thulagano Segokgo highlighted Botswana’s healthcare sector as one of several that stand to benefit from 5G.