General Commentary on Kenya’s 5G Roadmap and Strategy

The communications Authority of Kenya has proposed a roadmap and strategy for 5G network rollout. As rightly put,  5G technology will foster faster connectivity and lower latency with the general benefit of improved efficiency. The government and all types of technology-driven businesses will find essence in 5G application ranging from information dissemination and service provision to greater interconnectivity, operability, and flexibility. The overall effect of 5G will be improved broadband penetration – Initially in urban areas – to facilitate socioeconomic development.

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Worldwide, the race to 5G was already heating up in early 2019, with countries such as South Korea holding a commercial launch of the network ahead of USA and China (Li & Park, 2019). Companies such as Verizon also first launched 5G mobile services in 2019 in parts of America (Verizon, 2019). Now, Kenya’s commitment to the 5G rollout provides an opportunity to cement its position as a digital leader and preferred technology hub in the region ahead of its neighbors and  most of Africa. A swift rollout, as projected by the Communications Authority, will yield better fruits especially in employment creation, ease of doing business, and global recognition as an ideal investment destination.

Gauging by the benefits provided by 4G in the Kenyan market since its first instance by Safaricom in 2014 (Obulutsa, 2014), 5G rollout will be a success. If 4G adoption allowed Safaricom a 50% increase in data revenue within half a year (Obulutsa, 2014), imagine the immense impact 5G would have, not only for companies and organizations, but the country in general. 5G will notably be used across various industries and sectors mentioned by the Communications Authority (2021) including communications, agriculture and water, healthcare, education, manufacturing, mining, and construction, public safety and disaster response, smart city and transportation, and tourism and travel. These are important economy sectors that, with application of 5G technology, will have overbearing impact on the economy to realize essential milestones such as the Big 4 Agenda, the Kenya Digital Economy Blueprint, National Broadband Strategy 2018-2023, National ICT Policy 2020, and the Communication Authority Strategic Plan for the period 2018-2023 (Communications Authority, 2021). The use of license exempt applications such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth will in itself enrich user experience and improve productivity at a personal level.

Even so, there are emerging concerns that must be considered concerning the 5G rollout;

1.    While most of Kenya is covered with 4G, some rural areas still lack reliable broadband connectivity. Improvement of broadband penetration (4G) – whose previous efforts are commendable –  would make the country more 5G-ready. The initial strategic rollout to urban areas is necessary, but timelines should be used to pan out the technology (starting with 4G) to remote areas.  

2.    Even with expected 5G rollout, there is still a low number of 5G supported devices in the market. This would raise compatibility challenges as well as a slowed adoption of 5G. Nonetheless it should be expected that with continued rollout, more 5G ready devices shall be acquired.

3.    5G shall present increased cybersecurity challenges that must be adequately mitigated by a set of technical, physical, and administrative controls. Furthermore, there will be a need for competent cybersecurity professionals with an in-depth knowledge on mobile broadband networks to curb and remediate possible attacks. Similarly, the role of education and awareness cannot be underestimated in this endeavor.

4.    All interested stakeholders, more so telcos, should be given a conducive legal and operational environment to acquire and rollout 5G to their customers. A fair competitive environment is key to this realization as is the support by the government in provision of licensing and infrastructure support.

If implemented within stipulated guidelines and timeframes, the Communications Authority 5G roadmap and strategy will hasten Kenya’s economic growth and foster a robust digital environment vital for Kenya’s global competitiveness. The future is certainly bright, as are the opportunities and gaps that should continually be identified and improved upon.


Li, K., & Park, J. (2019). Who was first to launch 5G? Depends who you ask. U.S.

Obulutsa, G. (2014). Safaricom launches Kenya's first 4G Internet services. U.S.

Verizon. (2019). When was 5G introduced?. News Center.       



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