Algeria’s telecoms minister Brahim Boumzar has stated that 5G development is not an immediate national priority, as the government is instead focused on improving 4G mobile services for the population. Speaking in a radio interview on 14 March, reported by Agence Ecofin, Boumzar called the existing quality of 4G service ‘poor’, adding: ‘For the moment, the essential thing is to offer a respectable [service] to our citizens. First, we have to offer good 4G and at the right time we can move on to other generations.’ He also argued that cellcos need enough time to get financial returns from their 4G networks, which were launched little over four years ago, saying: ‘the operators should also manage to amortise their investments.’ The minister continued: ‘Our current facilities are 5G-ready. When the time is right, we will launch 5G.’ He also expressed concerns that a switch to 5G – with 4G coverage remaining weak – could even accentuate the digital divide in the country and harm the digital transformation ambitions promoted by the government.
TeleGeography says that Algeria’s commercial introduction of 4G LTE services took place in October 2016 – less than three years after its launch of 3G – and whilst the combined 4G network footprint of the country’s three cellcos Mobilis, Djezzy and Ooredoo has reached a presence in all 48 provinces, significant improvements are still required, evidenced by regulatory fines issued to the trio in 2020 for unsatisfactory 4G coverage.