Kenya’s biggest telecom operator Safaricom might consider awarding a contract to Huawei as it rolls out 5G network this year. This is despite the US urging countries not to use Huawei.
Huawei is one of Safaricom’s vendors. Acting CEO Michael Joseph told the media, “We will use Huawei in 5G … What will we do in terms of the American statements about not using Huawei? We don’t have that situation in Africa.”
Safaricom involving Huawei in its 5G network could hinder discussions on a free trade agreement between the US and Kenya. The 5G rollout is vital to the Kenya operator’s plans to expand data business on the back of slow revenue in voice calls, media reports said.
The telecom operator said that its web data revenue grew four-fold over the last five years to Sh38 billion. This has exceeded its sales growth from voice business.
Subscribers seeking to use the Safaricom service are expected to purchase new handsets that are 5G compatible. The operator’s 5G-enabled internet will offer faster data download and upload that might eventually reduce network jamming.
Safaricom has major plans to expand into Ethiopia. It will bid for a telecoms licence in partnership with Vodacom and other operators. Vodacom holds 35 percent stake in Safaricom.
Kenya’s telecom operator is anticipated to propose an offer to Ethiopia by April 2020, like other operators interested in a telecom licence. However, the deadline set by the country is November 2020. It is reported that Safaricom wants to make a joint bid owing to high entry costs.