Now and not later: Why we urgently need A 5G policy in Kenya

In Issue 85 - Feb 2023, Technology
February 03, 2023
In the dynamic race towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Kenya was fortunate to become the 2nd country in Africa's list of 5G pioneers. Moreover, Kenya is second only to South Africa in the rollout of the 5G network on the continent, albeit starting on a small scale. Safaricom, Kenya's largest mobile network operator has already passed its 5G testing phase and is now making deployment plans across the country. Despite all this, Kenya has not yet enacted any 5G specific laws.

Although Kenya lacks 5G legal enforcement, guidelines such as the National Broadband Strategy NBS 2018 – 2023 were released, updating and building upon the previous Plan (2013 – 2017). The Plan unveiled a detailed strategy for the rapid rollout of broadband services across the nation, setting goals for effective coverage, encouraging market participation, data pricing, and minimum data download speeds in both urban and rural areas. Furthermore, in November 2021, the Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK) gave all stakeholders and interested parties an opportunity to comment on a proposed 5G roadmap and strategy.

Despite the above efforts geared towards the Regulation of 5G in Kenya, all this does not fully or directly address the challenges of 5G deployment that a 5G Specific Law would tackle.

If so, what are the implications of not having an immediate 5G law passed for Kenyans? This piece, therefore, discusses the adaptive approaches and effects of the 5G Policy on Kenyans and seeks to highlight why we need it sooner rather than later. Indeed, the success of 5G deployment and commercial operation in Kenya will depend highly on a defined strategy. Kenya will not be the 1st African country to pass a 5G Law as on 25th January, 2022, Nigeria officially launched their National Policy on Fifth Generation (5G) networks which will have a vital role to play in Nigeria’s quest for a digital economy. The priority is, therefore, to create a 5G Specific Policy that ensures the advancement of 5G while also addressing the challenges and issues that are specific to 5G deployment.

Effects of the 5G law on performance

Kenya should pass a 5G law sooner rather than later to avoid the risk of missing out  on the next cycle of innovations and to also claim a stake in the new digital value chain commonly known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The legal framework has to address key    5G    challenges such as:    Spectrum allocation; 5G network deployment; Infrastructure sharing; Data protection;   Service diversification and bundling by  MNOs, Net neutrality;  and  Consumer protection issues.  Some  of  the effects of the 5G Law on performance include:

Silas B. Owiti
/ Published posts: 1

Guest author The Platform Magazine

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