MTN Zambia on Friday became the first mobile operator in the country a to offer 5G services commercially, after undertaking trials of the transformative technology over the past 11 months.
Zambian president Hakainde Hichilema presided over the launch of the network at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka.
“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,” said MTN chairman Mcebisi Jonas. “We look forward to continuing to work together to meaningfully impact the growth and development of Zambia.”
Group president and CEO Ralph Mupita said MTN Zambia was the Group’s third operation in Africa, after Nigeria and South Africa, where 5G services were now commercially available.
“5G can transform business and livelihoods beyond simple connectivity, with the potential to unlock many new use cases,” he said. “In Zambia, we see great opportunities across many sectors, and in the mining industry in particular.”
MTN Zambia CEO Bart Hofker said MTN’s 5G services had been activated to cover about 65% of the population in the cities of Lusaka, Kitwe and Ndola, as well as parts of Chingola, Solwezi and Kalumbila. This translates to about 15% of the population.
“We plan to reach 100% 5G coverage in Lusaka, Kitwe and Ndola by the middle of 2023, while gradually expanding the 5G network to other locations,” he said.
5G, or fifth-generation mobile network technology, offers faster speeds, lower latency, better security and stability and the ability to handle high volume connections and mobile data. It can connect people, machines, vehicles and robots. For industries like mining and manufacturing, the network can be used to automate processes to increase capacity and efficiency. 5G also has the potential to be a driving force for innovation and entrepreneurship.
The introduction of 5G is part of a wider network strategy for MTN Zambia, says the company. Other programmes involve the optimisation and modernisation of existing 3G and 4G networks, the building of a fibre ring in Zambia with MTN GlobalConnect, and the extension of coverage in more rural areas. Through a rural connectivity programme, MTN Zambia and our partners plan to use cost-effective coverage alternatives to launch 45 rural sites in 2022 and another 100 in 2023.