African countries continue to implement the Fourth Generation Long-Term Evolution (4G LTE) network to help citizens gain access to fast internet in efforts by governments to improve development and grow the economy.
With Kenya achieving status as the technology hub in the East Africa region and being listed in the top African countries showing potential and growth in the use of technologies, it is disappointing that the country has been left way behind in 4G network roll out.
Rwanda is the latest country to overtake Kenya in the high-speed network roll out, following an announcement that the long awaited 4G network planned to launch earlier in September this year, will be operational starting this week.
The broadband network will be a new addition to the existing ICT eco-system, offering increased internet speed, accessibility and efficiency to enable people to do business faster and easily in order to impact growth in the country.
Rated as 10 times faster than the preceding 3G network, the 4G network has been deployed in the country through joint investment between the Rwanda government and Korea Telecom dubbed Olleh Rwanda Networks (ORN).
The deal allows ORN to play the role of whole seller, with telecoms and internet service providers (ISPs) acting as retailers. Local providers Airtel and MTN have already started gearing for the service.
Rwanda joins East African countries Uganda and Tanzania who already reap the benefits brought about by the 4G LTE technology, including fast video downloads in seconds, full movie live streaming and multiplayer online gaming on their mobile devices.
The two countries launched the 4G network last year through Smile Communications which has operations in both Uganda and Tanzania among others.
Also through Smile Communications, Nigeria has operational 4G LTE network in three major cities, with plans to launch in 60 more communities across the country by next year currently underway.
Kenya, however is yet to deploy the high-speed network being overtaken by even poor ICT players such as Zimbabwe and Ghana which already have the network deployed.
For two years now the Kenyan government has been working together with telecoms for the national 4G network roll out but no actual progress have been reported, forcing the largest network provider in the country Safaricom, to pull out.
Safaricom last week announced that it would start work to deliver high-speed wireless internet for its customers by deploying two separate 4G networks after it gets access to additional frequencies from the government.
The two LTE networks are planned to roll out in a year’s time, with one for the government covering Nairobi and Mombasa and the other a commercial one covering other major towns.
Kenyans will have to wait for the public 4G network set to be developed in partnership with investors and to be run by the government in the form of a single wholesale network (SWN), which will work in the same way as the one deployed in Rwanda.