MTN Group pulled the trigger on a 5G network in Uganda, bringing next-generation connectivity to the east African country for the first time with hopes it will shape the market’s future technological landscape.

The local unit live-streamed an event on Twitter, hailing the launch featuring speeches from company’s CEO Sylvia Mulinge (pictured), CTIO Monzer Ali and CMO Somdev Sen.

Initially, the next-generation network will be available for citizens to try in a  cluster around Lugogo Mall in the country’s capital Kampala, where it had found a high concentration of users of 5G-compatible devices.

Availability will be expanded in the coming weeks, with plans to complete a full rollout in the city by the end of 2024.

Over the next two years, the company is aiming for all its base stations in major cities to be 5G-capable.

Mulinge revealed the company had explored 5G in the country for the past two years and, with a bedrock now in place, it believed the network would “play a pivotal role in driving ICT solutions for economic growth” and marked a “giant stride in Uganda’s technological landscape”.

Ali added the network would serve as a catalyst for innovation across sectors including healthcare, education, agriculture and manufacturing, fuelling economic progress.

GSMA Intelligence placed MTN as Uganda’s largest operator by mobile connections, with 18.2 million at end-Q2, slightly ahead of Airtel Uganda’s 13.7 million.

Airtel Uganda is also expected to launch 5G services in Kampala in August.