• On the 5G device ecosystem, there are currently over 300,000 5G-enabled devices all over the country.
• Consumers do not need to change their SIM cards in order to get the 5G experience.
In a bid to maximise the adoption of 5G network connectivity, Safaricom partnered with Huawei to unveil three 5G experiential centres across Nairobi.
The three centres located in Safaricom’s Buruburu, The Hub Karen and Village Market shops are set to be showcasing the superfast speeds and cutting-edge devices that come with a 5G network.
At these 5G experience centres, consumers will be experiencing VR gaming zones, showcases of smart capabilities for homes and businesses, and speed-testing booths.
Kenya places second, behind SA, on the adoption and commercial launch of 5G network products in Africa.
Last year in October, the telco giant launched its 5G network, the first one in the region.
Since then, the service provider has commissioned over 200 5G sites across 11 counties.
These include Kajiado, Kakamega, Kiambu, Kisii, Kisumu, Machakos, Mombasa, Nairobi, Nakuru, Siaya and Vihiga.
On the 5G device ecosystem, there are currently over 300,000 5G-enabled devices all over the country.
Later this year, Safaricom plans to increase the number to 700,000 5G-enabled devices.
According to the CA sector statistics financial year 22/23 report, there has been an increasing demand and uptake of smartphones.
This is mainly driven by the demand for broadband-enabled devices and access to devices.
As of December 31, 2022, there were 63.3 million mobile phone devices in the country.
Of this 53.1 per cent were feature phones while 46.9 per cent were smartphones.
The total mobile data and internet subscriptions stood at 47.7 million of which, 66.8 per cent were on mobile broadband.
Safaricom’s CEO Peter Ndegwa said that the unveiling of these experience centres will enable Kenyans to discover the power of 5G firsthand.
“As a digital lifestyle enabler, we are further enhancing Kenya’s best internet network and empowering our customers to start exploring the limitless possibilities that 5G provides,” he said.
Safaricom Ag. chief consumer business officer Fawzia Ali said that consumers do not need to change their SIM cards in order to get the 5G experience.
“All you need is to be in a 5G coverage area and have access to 5G compatible devices,” Ali said.
“Some of us are comfortable with what 4G network connectivity offers us but launching these experience zones gives us the opportunity to learn and see how the 5G network works in different fields.”
Through 5G, Safaricom is determined to help businesses scale by providing them with connectivity capacity.
This allows them to increase online reach and enjoy fibre-like experiences in areas with low fibre coverage.
Safaricom’s head of fixed data Franklin Ocharo said that they have established 100 Mbps propositions for businesses with 5G routers.
He added that this enables small enterprises to run their businesses by staying connected even in cases where there is a lack of fibre coverage.
“5G has enabled virtual retail shopping where one can purchase a clothing item from an online store and actually do a fit test before completing the purchase,” Ocharo said.
“This empowers customers to drive up purchases by connecting faster to these online marketplaces.”
Ocharo explained that post-covid, a lot of businesses had moved to the online space.
With a good network that has high speeds and low latency, businesses can reach more people faster and are able to market their products and services.
However, Safaricom is in talks with different corporates to see how 5G can be incorporated for larger enterprises that require private networks.
Ocharo said due to the high capacity offered by 5G, they are able to create private networks for specific enterprises that require operation-specific connections for security purposes.
“When KPA, for instance, needs to automate its operations, you will find that their robots need to undertake high precision activities and the connection needs to be secure so that the operations are not tampered with,” he said.
“They can choose to have a special network and then choose the kind of speed and experience they need to give to their robots.”
Ali said that they are currently rolling out 5G in areas with a high uptake of 5G-enabled devices.
She added that companies in areas that lack 5G coverage but want to embed the network in their systems can request and have a 5G site set up in their enterprises.
Home and enterprise customers already in 5G zones can enjoy the network through 5G WiFi.
Content creators and online gamers are also set to benefit from the partnership as Safaricom is looking to launch 5G-specific bundles by mid-April.
This will ensure that they maximise the use of 5G and enjoy the experience for an extended time.
Huawei Kenya deputy CEO Sheng Kaifu said high speed and latency allow content creators and their audiences to live stream content without having to download it.
“Creators are able to record, upload and share their content in seconds,” he said.
The online gaming community has also partnered with Safaricom to scale up their professionalism through the adoption of 5G in their spaces.
Ocharo said that intense games require a lot of bandwidth to ensure that there is an immediate response in the case of international competitions.
Ali added that 5G enables Kenyan online gamers to be at par with their international opponents when it comes to high-speed internet connectivity.
“To scale this, we want to establish the most covered areas by the online gaming community,” Ali noted.
“We are going to put a lot of information that we are showcasing here, online so that consumers can see what 5G can do for health, agriculture, gaming, VR, and AR as well as other sectors.”
Through this partnership, Safaricom has committed to ensuring that everyone has access to the latest technology from where they are.