French telecom giant Orange has launched its commercial 5G network in Botswana, making it the first Orange affiliate country in Africa to launch 5G technology.

Orange's 5G coverage in Botswana will reach 30% of the population, particularly in greater Gaborone and Francistown, with other cities to follow in early 2023, according to the company.

This 5G launch will further support innovation and digital inclusion in the country, putting Botswana at the forefront of 5G in Africa and is closely aligned with the government’s ambition to leverage Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) innovation towards transforming Botswana into a knowledge-based economy, leaving no-one behind.

The news follows the launch of Botswana’s first Orange Digital Centre which will help bridge the digital divide and prepare Batswana youth for employment in a blossoming digital ecosystem.

Since 2019, Africa has been gradually embarking on a 5G roll-out to accelerate its development.

  • In September 2019, South African telecom company Rain partnered with Huawei to launch the first known commercial 5G network in South Africa. Later that year, MTN launched a 5G mobile network trial across several Nigerian cities, in partnership with Huawei, ZTE, and Ericsson.
  • In 2020, ZTE and MTN launched the first 5G network trial in East Africa, while MTN launched its fifth-generation 5G pilot in Zambia, in partnership with Chinese tech giant Huawei.
  • In December 2021, Nigerian telecommunications regulator awarded MTN Nigeria and Mafab Communications with the country's first 5G high-speed spectrum licences. In February 2022, both companies paid the $273.6 million license fee required by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to operate 5G in the country.
  • In September 2022, MTN officially made its 5G network commercially available in 7 states including Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Kano, Owerri, and Maiduguri.
  • In November 2022, Kenyan telecommunications operator, Safaricom launched its 5G high-speed internet service in the country, making it the first company to roll out the technology at a commercial scale in the East African region.