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connecting Africa

Connecting Africa

Since the first telegraph line deployed in South Africa in 1860s, Nokia has been partnering with African CSPs- Communications Service Providers- to provide Africans with latest connectivity technologies from 1G to 5G and from telegraph lines to fiber optics.

Learn more about some of the key milestones of our long history in Africa.


Connecting Africa since 1860

Connecting Africa since 1860

Nokia has actively been collaborating with clients to build reliable critical networks in Africa. Our rich history in Africa starts in 1860 when Siemens, whose telecom division was later bought by Nokia, started its business activities with telegraph equipment for the Cape Town to Simonstown line. Since then, we have been leading the charge with several firsts, such as equipping Libya with its first regional nationwide automatic switching network in the 1960s, Alcatel -- whose telecom arm was also purchased by Nokia -- delivering the first digital exchange in Morocco in 1976, and Siemens and Alcatel jointly installing the first electronic exchange in Pretoria, South Africa.

first telegraph
Vodafone in South Africa

Our continuing successes in the continent

Nokia has come a long way since delivering 1G (NMT) to Maroc Telecom in 1987, through different evolutions of network technology, and delivering the first 4G network to Ivory Coast. 2017 saw the company sign the first memorandum of understanding (MOU) for 5G with Vodacom South Africa and showcased the first 5G live sport broadcast in virtual reality and first live hologram broadcast of a sitting state president the following year. In 2018, we launched 4G with Orange across Africa modernising around 11 000 radio sites in Egypt, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Senegal, Mali, Guinea-Bissau, and Niger. That same year, we run first 5G trial in Morocco on commercial hardware, and in 2019 Nokia and Vodacom Mozambique trialled the country’s first 5G network while the company together with Djezzy concluded the world-first WING agricultural trial.

In 2020, Nokia and Angola Cables trialled the first direct optical connection between the USA and Africa with the PSE-3 chipset. In the same year, we enabled ultra-fast 5G services for Vodacom South Africa’s customers with its 5G radio, core, fixed and CPEs, while we collaborated with Airtel Kenya to lay 5G foundations in Nairobi, deployed the first 5G network in West Africa with Togocom, and broke the 5G speed record with Ooredoo Tunisia. As the exclusive radio partner, Nokia also assisted Orange Cameroon to revamp its 4G strategy making it the ‘Best Network' in country as per Ookla’s recognition several times in a row.

In 2021, Nokia’s Submarine division (Alcatel Submarine Networks), began construction of the Africa-1 subsea cable, a 10,000 km cable to connect Africa to the Middle East and Europe. We also assisted Safaricom in launching the East Africa’s first commercial 5G services in Kenya while we signed a deal with Africell, Angola’s new telecommunications operator, to deploy a brand new 5G-ready network.


Developing tomorrow’s required skills today

Apart from building critical networks across Africa, ensuring the continent is equipped with the right skills as network technology evolves, is a big priority for Nokia, and we remain committed to education in Africa through various partnerships. These include the partnership with CodeBus Africa in 2017, which brought African and Finnish innovators together in 10 countries, the innovation marathon we ran with Egyptian universities in 2019 to nurture talent, and our collaboration with two leading universities in Ethiopia to promote digital skills and innovation. Most recently, we supported the Forge Academy in South-Africa with the launch of a fully inclusive artificial intelligence (AI) laboratory to help students to become entrepreneurs in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In addition, since 2018 Nokia and UNICEF have been working with the Government of Kenya and telcos including Safaricom in Kenya to boost digital literacy and bridge the digital divide with our Fixed Wireless Access technology for broadband in 90 schools as of September 1st 2021.

Building critical networks – the journey continues


While the network technologies we bring to the market has evolved drastically, our commitment to the African continent remains the same. With 48 IP customers, nine cloud customers, five Fixed Wireless Access customers, 33 Optical Network customers, 35 Fibre customers, and 28 Microwave customers, 39 LTE networks, 25 Managed Services networks, and 24 Core networks as of September 1st 2021, Nokia has a strong presence, supporting all leading Communications Service Providers (CSPs) and serving millions of end users across the continent. We also have 26 Business Apps customers and about to reach 1 million Optical Network Terminals (ONTs) sold in Africa.

Our journey in building solid critical telecommunications networks – 1G to 5G -- for CSPs and enterprises with our comprehensive technology portfolio continues with many milestones to provide more inclusive access globally including in Africa. Currently, the 5G momentum continues to grow for Nokia globally and in Africa, marked with 230 + commercial 5G agreements and 68 live CSP 5G references as of Sep 1st. At the same time, we continue to cater to the demand for 3G and 4G, as the African market is a diversified telecoms market.

First telegraph

First telegraph line

In 1860, Siemens –whose Telecom business was later purchased by Nokia – received an order and later supplied equipment for Africa ’s first telegraph line connecting Cape Town with the British naval base at Simon’s Town. This first order was followed by several other in following years where Siemens was asked to equip several telegraph offices and supplied telecommunications cables and telephones. You can access the full story here.


Connecting the unconnected

Nokia has come together with multiple stakeholders, including Safaricom, UNICEF and the Kenyan Ministries of Education and ICT, to connect close to 90 schools to the Internet in Kenya. Both rural and disadvantaged urban settlements have benefitted from the initiative, which also supports digitization and digital literacy. The initiative aims to ‘connect the unconnected’ and to increase equitable access to digital literacy for some of the most disadvantaged children in Kenya. This includes girls and children with disabilities in urban informal settlements and some of the most remote areas of Kenya.
Please watch here the video about Connecting the unconnected to inclusive digital learning in Kenya


CodeBus Africa

CodeBus Africa was a project that brought together Finnish and African innovators with Nokia as prime sponsor. CodeBus Africa ran creative coding workshops for 12-20 years old youth, in ten Sub-Saharan African countries: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. CodeBus offered also a training of trainers to 50 local coding instructors with the aim to increase the capacity of local technology hubs to provide similar boot camps as a part of their own value offering. some of them have continued running workshops in few countries. You can watch the video of the Codebus amazing journey trought Africa.

2Africa subsea project

World's largest subsea project

At 37,000km long, 2Africa is the world’s largest subsea cable project and will interconnect Europe (eastward via Egypt), the Middle East (via Saudi Arabia), and 21 landings in 16 countries in Africa. The system is expected to go live in 2023-24, delivering more than the total combined capacity of all subsea cables serving Africa today, with a design capacity of up to 180Tbps on key parts of the system. 2Africa will deliver much needed internet capacity and reliability across large parts of Africa, supplement the fast-growing capacity demand and underpin the further growth of 4G, 5G and fixed broadband access for hundreds of millions of people.Read more about 2Africa.

Orange cameroon

Orange Cameroon’s 4G turnaround

In the last couple of years, Orange Cameroun has been regularly recognized by Nperf and Ookla for the quality of its mobile network. Orange Cameroon several times in a row both the Fastest Mobile Network award and the Best Mobile Coverage award thus making it winner of the Best Network award in country based on analysis done by Ookla in Cameroun. Nokia is proud to have been the exclusive radio partner in the revamped 4G strategy Abdallah Nassar, Chief Engineering and Network Officer for Orange Cameroon has leading in the past few years. Please watch Abdallah’s interview by Telecom TV about his successful 4G turnaround.

Oredoo Algeria

Ooredoo Algeria’s digital transformation

Digital transformation is a key to realizing the potential and promises of 5G, but only if the Communication Service Providers (CSPs) overcome the challenge of network complexity and be ready for 5G standalone deployments. Having the vision of becoming a leading digital enabler, Ooredoo Algeria along with Nokia are proving it’s possible to simplify the network leading towards improved connectivity and faster services enhancing customer experience. Ooredoo chose Nokia as a single-vendor networking solution provider that included Cloud-native packet core, SDM and multiple new data center deployment. Please watch the interview with Djillali Erouane, Technology Operation Director about the digital transformation journey of Ooredoo Algeria,