[ACCI-CAVIE] Microsoft aims to bring Internet connectivity to an additional 100 million people in Africa, where nearly 60% of the adult population does not have access to the Internet. The U.S. company wants to rely on partnerships with local players to achieve this goal.
The American technology company Microsoft and the pan-African Internet access provider Liquid Intelligent Technologies have announced that they have signed a partnership agreement. The goal of the collaboration is to provide Internet access to 20 million underserved people in Africa by the end of 2025.
The partnership will initially target the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Tanzania and Zambia, among others. It will also accelerate broadband penetration in the most remote areas of Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. “Access to broadband connectivity is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity,” said Nic Rudnick, vice president and general manager of Liquid Intelligent Technologies Group.
As part of the partnership, Liquid Intelligent will leverage its 100,000+ km African fiber network and partners to bring connectivity to all parts of the continent, including rural and remote areas. In addition, the company has a fiber pair on Google’s Equiano cable. Once the cable is commissioned, this new capacity is expected to enable the company to improve international connectivity in West and Southern Africa, with up to 12 terabits of traffic.
The initiative is part of Microsoft’s “Airband” program. Launched in 2017, it aims to advance access to affordable internet and essential digital skills around the world through partnerships with industry players. The company previously signed an agreement with satellite telecom operator Viasat last December to connect 5 million people in Africa, including DRC, Nigeria, Egypt, Senegal and Angola.
Microsoft’s Airband initiative is expected to help bridge the digital divide in Africa, where only 40% of the adult population has access to the Internet, according to the Global System Operators’ Association (GSMA). Through this initiative, Microsoft intends to extend high-speed Internet connectivity to 250 million people worldwide, including 100 million on the African continent by 2025.
By Isaac K. Kassouwi and LB