Safaricom launches East Africa's first 5G network

Safaricom 5G launch in Kiboswa, Kisumu (Image credit: Safaricom)

Safaricom, Kenya’s biggest telecoms operator, has announced the launch of trails for 5G internet, using technology from Huawei and Nokia.

The trials started with four Kenyan cities and towns on Friday - Nairobi, Kisumu, Kisii and Kakamega, but will be expanded to 150 sites in nine urban areas in the next 12 months. 

5G Milestone

Safaricom, the market leader in the mobile data segment in Kenya, are running the 5G trial period with the primary objective being to establish if customers can enjoy speeds of up to 700 Megabits per second, with plans to offer than 1,000 Mbps speeds in coming months.

As well as offering blazing speeds – 700 Megabits per second is more than three times faster than the current 4G network – 5G technology also supports far many more devices to connect to the internet in a given area, compared with the existing network.

"Empower our customers with super-fast internet.”

Peter Ndegwa, CEO, Safaricom

“Today marks a major milestone for the country. With 5G, we aim to empower our customers with super-fast internet at work, at home and when on the move, supplementing our growing fibre network. At Safaricom, we are proud to be the first in the country and the region to bring this latest innovation to both our retail and enterprise customers empowering them to start exploring new opportunities that 5G provides,” said Peter Ndegwa, CEO, Safaricom.

Moving to 5G

Safaricom’s Enterprise and Home Internet customers on the trial will be provided with a 5G router to use. It’s 5G service will also be available on some 5G phones, beginning with the Huawei Mate 30 Pro and P40 now, and from the end of April 2021 on the Nokia 8.3, Samsung Galaxy S21 series, Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 and Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G.  All of these 5G phones will be available at Safaricom Shops.

The 5G technology will be an upgraded alternative to Home Fibre and Fibre for Business services, allowing Safaricom to target customers in places where it is yet to roll out its fibre network.

"Reinforcing the country’s position at being at the forefront of innovation."

Joe Mucheru, Cabinet Secretary.

“I congratulate Safaricom on this milestone, reinforcing the country’s position at being at the forefront of innovation in the region and the world. 5G technology will usher increased internet speeds and capabilities for millions across the country, laying a strong foundation for a new generation of innovators and entrepreneurs,” said Hon. Joe Mucheru, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Information and Technology.

Technology partners

Nokia and Huawei have been chosen by Safaricom as technology partners, to implement the roll out of their 5G network.  The US has urged other countries not to include Huawei in their 5G networks, citing security concerns, which Huawei has always denied.

Rachael Sharpe

Rachael is a British journalist with 17 years experience in the publishing industry. Since launching, she’s been freelancing, and working for some of the world’s best-loved websites and magazines including and and has also had a book, iPad for Photographers, published. A regular contributor at 5Gradar, Rachael is following the 5G market closely. Find out more at