Kenya risks being caught up in the middle of an economic supremacy battle between China and the United States over control of East Africa’s 5G infrastructure.
Kenya is appearing as a battlefield for Beijing and Washington’s bid to dominate not only 5G deployment but also the next industrial spring, with the conqueror exerting greater impact in the region for decades to come.
In June 2022, the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) and Chinese telecommunications colossus, signed a memorandum of understanding and among the crucial things agreed upon was growing Kenya’s 5G infrastructure.
Barely 20 days later, the US – Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP) was signed in a bid to “pursue enhanced engagement leading to high standards commitments in a wide range of areas with a view to increasing investment.”
US and Kenya agreed to work on the digital trade, where Kenya and the US claim a joint interest in boosting consumer, business, and worker trust in the digital economy, and enabling the development and use of resilient and snug digital infrastructure.
The United States and China have been racing to secure market share for their domestic industries in global 5G network deployments.
In terms of commercial deployments, is currently ahead of the United States and the global telecoms infrastructure firms.
Last year, the Kenyan government has defended China against accusations made by the United States government, claiming that the Asian nation planned to use 5G technology to spy on other countries.
ICT Cabinet Secretary, Joe Mucheru, dismissed claims by the Americans as sideshow politics that had nothing to do with the rollout of the 5G network which has already been adopted in Kenya.
One of Kenya’s telecommunication service providers launched its fifth generation mobile (5G) network service in the country on Thursday, March 25.
The US government had pressured countries to ditch the use a Chinese company, in the supply of equipment relating to 5G technology.
“Of course, as government, we have been aware of some of those questions about suppliers and technology, but those are just more political postures as opposed to the high test of the technology.
“We have been working with these partners for a long time and we cannot say we have had any challenges or questions about the security of the technology,” Mucheru stated.