Orange switched-on 5G in Botswana, its first market for the technology in Africa, and revealed an ambition to bring the service to six further countries in the MEA region in 2023, with Jordan, Senegal and the Ivory Coast its next likely launches.

As of today (11 November) the Botswana 5G network covers 30 per cent of the country’s population including the capital city of Gaborone and Francistown, the second most-populous centre. Orange plans to expand it to other cities in early 2023.

During a press event, Orange Botswana CEO Nene Maiga said the main use case would initially be fixed wireless access (FWA) products and within enterprise, acknowledging 5G smartphones were not that common in the country.

However, she added Orange is “hopeful with prices going down below $150 we will see further adoption of these products”.

Maiga noted there was significant opportunity in business “particularly in industries that could benefit from more automation, to ensure safety”.

Orange cited an expectation the network would eventually support new applications in healthcare, education and security services.

Next moves
Looking forward, Orange Middle East and Africa CEO Jerome Henique said Jordan would likely be its next 5G launch in his region, followed by Ivory Coast and Senegal.

He added Orange was assessing use of the technology in industrial settings including mining and ports. As part of this drive, it has opened several 5G labs where it can work with customers on specific use-cases for its respective markets.

In the consumer segment, Henique noted “great opportunity to complete our success story on fixed broadband,” noting it would provide a FWA 5G “router to customers with affordable offers”.

“There’s really a need. We saw from the pandemic the expectation and demand for home broadband solutions is really booming.”

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