Orange launches the first African 5G network in Botswana

French telecommunications group Orange on Friday launched a new 5G network in Botswana, the first step in rolling out high-speed data offerings to other markets in the Middle East and Africa, officials said. company.

After the initial launch in Botswana, Orange’s 5G coverage will extend to 30% of the southern African country’s population, including those living in Gaborone and Francistown, the two largest cities.

Coverage will expand to other cities early next year, the company said.

While the prices of 5G-enabled mobile phones are falling, they remain out of reach for most Africans.

Instead, Orange is primarily focused on 5G as a way to deliver fast internet in Africa, where low population density makes deploying fiber optic infrastructure uneconomical.

“For us, the main use case is fixed wireless access, ie internet at home,” Nene Maiga, CEO of Orange Botswana, told reporters before the launch.

Africa and the Middle East, where Orange operates in 18 countries, accounts for more than 60% of the company’s total mobile customers and 6.4 billion euros ($6.6 billion) in revenue.

The region currently has more than 44 million 4G customers.

Orange CEO for the Middle East and Africa, Jérôme Henrique, said the company aims to roll out 5G in around half a dozen countries in 2023, most likely starting with Jordan.

“There is already an agreement with the government on the conditions for the launch of 5G in Jordan. And most likely the Ivory Coast and Senegal will follow, but we are still discussing regulatory conditions,” he said.

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