Gabon and Congo test 5G


Maroc Telecom Group subsidiary Gabon Telecom has officially commenced 5G testing in Gabon, while Republic of Congo is on track to commence 5G testing in December 2019.

Gabon Telecom's 5G experimentation began in Libreville on 22 November 2019 and is taking place at three sites: La Sablière, Boulevard Triomphal and the interministerial building of Battery IV.

The test is scheduled to run for a period of six months but could be extended to one year.

Gabon Telecom's Director General, Abderrahim Koumaa said, "The 5G experiment will allow us to evaluate the interest of this technology for innovative applications in the covered areas and to draw lessons for its development future."

According to Koumaa 5G is not a simple suite of 2G, 3G, 4G technologies, but an entirely different ecosystem that will require a complete overhaul of telecom resources and services.

Congo's UNECA support

In the Republic of Congo, Minister of Posts, Telecommunications and the Digital Economy, Léon Juste Ibombo announced that the test phase of 5G in the country will begin on 24 December 2019.

He said the country is receiving support from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

Vera Songwe, UNECA's Executive Secretary, said the Commission's decision to support Congo in testing 5G is in line with UNECA's policy of supporting member states' efforts to take advantage of the digital revolution for economic transformation.

Partners in the 5G testing phase are the government, local telecom operators, the Regulatory Authority for Post and Electronic Communications (ARPCE), and stakeholders in the private sector that are expected to identify and leverage on the new emerging opportunities offered by 5G.

Ibombo added, "For the government, the 5G tests should make it possible to accelerate the development of the applications necessary for the e-administration and to have a certain impact in domains such as the e-visa, e-tax, e-customs, but also e-justice and e-health."

He also pledged that the government will make all necessary arrangements for the availability and effective allocation of 5G frequency bands, as part of technical and commercial deployment projects.

Testing not rollout

As an increasing number of telcos across Africa test 5G, experts have warned that experimentation of 5G does not mean that the countries are already ready to deploy 5G - noting that technical conditions must be met and adequate frequencies must be made available.

The operators also require substantial investments to finance 5G rollout while consumers may also require 5G-enable devices.