The government of South Africa has declared its intention to ban the importation of 2G devices into that country by March 2023.
South African Communications Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni made the announcement at the 2022 World Telecommunication Development Conference in Kigala, Rwanda this week, saying that the ban would take effect in the current financial year – or by 31 March 2023.
This ban comes as South African mobile operators prepare to switch off their 2G and 3G networks to free up that spectrum for the deployment of more modern, data-driven 4G/LTE and 5G networks.
Ntshavheni told delegates at the conference that modernising South Africa’s network infrastructure is a key component of SA Connect, government’s programme to get more people online.
“The SA Connect programme will be complemented by a robust programme to modernise our networks in partnership with industry, which entails the full deployment of 4G and 5G networks by 2025,” she said.
“To enable this, we will shut down 2G and 3G networks over the same period and this financial year we will commence with the prohibition of the importation and distribution in South Africa of 2G devices.”
Telkom, which launched later than its rivals in mobile, has very few 2G users on its network and has already all but shut down it 2G network.
For Vodacom and MTN, which were established in 1994, the challenge is trickier as there are still millions of 2G-only devices on their networks.