Striking a balance

Microsoft Renews Pledge To Bolster Africa’s Internet Expansion Drive

By  |  December 19, 2022

In a development tied with the just concluded U.S.-Africa Summit, global tech behemoth, Microsoft, has revealed plans to expand Africa’s internet economy, bring more people into the connectivity bubble, culture soft skill building, and accelerate long-term cloud adoption. 

The American multinational says it is doubling down in its Airban Initiative, with intentions to join hands with local and international actors to help 100 million more Africans gain sustainable internet connectivity by the end of 2025. 

To that end, Microsoft is partnering with Viasat, a global satellite provider, to significantly scale and make inroads into newer markets in the continent. In the bigger picture, the collaboration is meant to enable Airband to make internet access available for a quarter of a billion consumers in different parts of the world. 

Before now, the Redmond, Washington-based tech firm has been making efforts to facilitate business and empowerment relations between telecom operators, federal leaderships, and non-profit organizations. Reportedly, Microsoft has expanded internet coverage to reach some 50 million people, nearly 10 million of which are in Africa. 

Just 40 percent of Africans residing in Africa have access to the internet, while a concerning 600 million people in the continent are not provided with electricity. For those that do have both amenities, service delivery is often inconsistent and dwarfed by average global performances. 

“We believe access to the internet is a fundamental right and we’ve been working to help deliver internet access to all through our Airband initiative, in close cooperation with governments, local communications providers, international aid organizations, and nonprofits,” says Teresa Hutson, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President, Technology and Corporate Responsibility

“Through Airband, Microsoft has been providing the technical know-how, seed funding, and a proven business model to engage with partners, and with today’s announcement we will scale this ambition even further,” she explained in an official statement. 

To protect the internet economy it has plans to enlarge, the company also plans to impact the local cybersecurity space by supporting talent with the Skills for Jobs initiative, which is fundamentally a LinkedIn-based cybersecurity skilling program. 

In the past half a decade, Microsoft has supported about 4 million youths across the region via a multiplicity of upskilling and employability initiatives. Skills for Jobs, in particular, is said to have helped over 1.5 million African youngsters/job seekers in the last 2 years, chiefly in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, and Egypt. 

Having had an African presence for no less than 3 decades, Microsoft currently has over 21,000 partners and 12 offices across the continent. 

As Africa’s population increases, companies are scrambling to partake in bridging the gap that exists in the continent’s digital space. Also recently, MTN South Africa and MTN Global Connect joined hands with Meta’s 2Africa consortium to land a 45,000 km cable in Yzerfontein and Duynefontein, South Africa.

With a capacity reaching 180 TB/s, the cable will deliver internet capacity, and reliability and improve web performance across large parts of the region. It will also underpin the growth of 4G, 5G, and fixed broadband access for millions.

Featured Image: IEEE Spectrum

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