Senegal calls for 5G license applications

Senegal's telecommunications regulator (L'Autorite de Regulation des Telecommunications et des Postes, or ARTP) has issued a call for applications for 5G licenses.

The call is the regulator keeping its promise to launch commercial ultra-broadband in the country in 2023, furthermore, requesting that interested investors must submit their applications by July 14, 2023.

In May 2023, the regulator announced that it would allocate 5G licenses to telecom operators by the end of July.

"Only companies incorporated under local law can apply and they should also have a valid license authorizing them to establish and operate a network open to the public and to provide electronic communications services as of the application submission date," the regulator said in a statement.

The country's 5G launch is in line with the country's drive to strengthen high-speed connectivity and digital use in the country. This is also linked to the Digital Economy Acceleration Project (PAEN), which the World Bank is funding for US$150 million.

Senegal's telecommunications regulator said interested parties have until July 14, 2023, to apply for a 5G license. 

That financing agreement was signed by Senegal's Minister of Finance and Budget, Mamadou Moustapha Ba, and the Keiko Miwa World Bank's Country Director for Cabo Verde, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, and Senegal.

Senegal's 5G plans
Senegalese telecom operators have been planning for 5G since 2020 with local operator Sonatel testing the service in November 2020 and running a second 5G trial in December 2021.

Free Senegal also launched an experimental phase of the fifth-generation technology in June 2022.

Furthermore, in July 2022, Sonatel, along with its parent company Orange, opened a 5G Lab in the capital, Dakar.

However, ARTP instructed Sonatel and Free to halt their network trials and submit a progress report to the regulator in March 2023.

Africa's 5G progression
The announcement by the Senegalese regulator, comes at a time when many other countries have also been announcing their 5G plans.

Just this week, the Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) invited applicants for its planned sale of 5G spectrum and the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) also announced it will auction 5G spectrum in October 2023.

Malawi also joined a growing list of 5G-enabled African countries after Telekom Networks Malawi (TNM) became the first mobile operator to make 5G services available in the country, on a pilot basis.

The recent 5G African progression is in line with GSMA predictions that many African countries will launch 5G services by 2025.

Source: Matshepo Sehloho (Connecting Africa)