Today, we’re announcing new and extended Airband collaborations that will bring high-speed internet to almost 40 million people in Latin America and Africa. These collaborations in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala and Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda represent significant progress toward our goal of providing high-speed internet access to 250 million people worldwide, including 100 million in Africa.
People in Latin America and Africa may have less possibilities to learn the digital fluency and skills required to engage in the digital economy due to limited access to broadband.
We at Microsoft think that access to the internet and meaningful connectivity is a fundamental right. The Microsoft Airband program was launched in order to offer revolutionary connection to unserved and underserved regions worldwide. Microsoft is acting as a catalyst to promote cheap access to connection through the Airband initiative and its partners, with a particular focus on places with lower digital connectivity rates.
Connecting Latin American communities
In recent years, approximately 37% of Latin Americans in rural areas have access to connectivity, compared to 71% of the urban population (https://apo-opa.info/3o7ZQvD). Airband, in collaboration with Wayfree in Guatemala, Fundacion Pais Digital in Chile, Brisanet in Brazil, and Anditel in Colombia, will provide high-speed internet access to 18 million people.
Latin America blends booming urban metropolis and rural areas with huge cultural heritage sites; but, as with other places, specific regions have unique hurdles in improving connection. With increased internet access, Airband and its partners intend to solve societal concerns such as employment and education, which may be reinforced with more connectivity.
Brazil: As part of our new agreement with Brisanet (https://apo-opa.info/435Pdsb), Airband is expanding our reach to Brazil, the largest market in Latin America. Brisanet, in collaboration with Microsoft and non-governmental organizations such as Amigos do Bem (https://www.AmigosdoBem.org/en/) and Mais Unidos (https://apo-opa.info/3IiPlML), will provide high-speed internet access to more than 11 million people while also supporting social and economic development in low-income areas of the country.
Chile: Fundación Pas Digital (https://apo-opa.info/3WeCOjd) is a non-profit organization dedicated to growing Chile’s digital economy, expanding connectivity, and improving digital literacy across the country. Fundación Pas Digital will expand connectivity to rural and underserved areas in two regions: the Biobo Region in central Chile, which has been severely impacted by earthquakes, and the Antofagasta Region, known for its mining industry, through their newest initiative, Programa Conectando Territorios (https://ConectandoTerritorios.PaisDigital.org/). In addition to connection, with Airband support, the program will target economic prospects by training and engaging local community members to maintain the new networks, bringing internet access to an additional one million people by the end of 2025.
Colombia: Our commitment with long-term partner Anditel (https://apo-opa.info/3M7ETch) to reach more than 600,000 individuals in five years has gone much more smoothly than expected. We have virtually doubled that aim to date, and we are now expanding our collaboration to cover an additional three million people by the end of 2025. Anditel wants to cover 85% of Colombians by 2026 by collaborating with the Colombian government on ICT 360 (https://apo-opa.info/41HfpIn), the national connectivity program.
Guatemala: Wayfree is the biggest supplier of Internet connectivity in Guatemala (https://apo-opa.info/3Wexvk2). They are deploying wireless access zones in cities and villages, now covering more than 40% of Guatemala’s 340 municipalities, with the goal of achieving ubiquitous wireless internet access. Airband’s assistance will stimulate installations in Guatemala’s remaining towns, eventually providing three million people with high-speed internet access by the end of 2025.
Crossing the African continent
Our initiatives on the African continent are among our most extensive and far-reaching. Many African nations are emerging economic powerhouse today, but offering connectivity on a continent with so many huge rural areas can be difficult. Africa has an average internet usage rate of 40% (https://apo-opa.info/3IiPuQj). collaborations are critical to the success of the Airband business, and we are expanding our existing African collaborations, including those with Mawingu and Tizeti.
Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda: Microsoft Airband’s partnership with Kenyan service provider Mawingu (https://apo-opa.info/3Ijr75f) began with a pilot in Nanyuki in 2014 and has now grown to provide high-speed internet access to four million Kenyans living in rural areas. Mawingu was Airband’s original partner, and today, thanks to the public-private partnership model, the company is Kenya’s premier internet service provider focused on rural and peri-urban areas. This latest expansion of our relationship with Mawingu will provide coverage to an additional 16 million people in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda by the end of 2025, bringing the total number of people covered to 20 million.
Mawingu provides substantial internet connection to hotspots, vocational institutions, and enterprises across Kenya. Airband’s collaboration has resulted in the deployment of over 700 hotspots and connectivity for over 100 elementary schools, allowing community members to access digital skills training and vital education materials. In addition, the organization has collaborated with Unilever and Microsoft Philanthropies to offer female entrepreneurs with access and expertise.
Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire: Airband partner Tizeti (https://www.Tizeti.com/) has expanded beyond Lagos to focus on underserved states around the country, reaching nearly 900,000 individuals. Microsoft and Tizeti are expanding their collaboration to Cote d’Ivoire, a cultural crossroads in West Africa, in order to provide internet access to nearly 5 million people. Given that electricity is frequently unavailable, insufficient, or inconsistent in many regions of Africa, this expansion of our cooperation involves infrastructure support as well as the deployment of eight solar-powered towers to assist in providing connectivity to households, small enterprises, and hotspots. This access will provide more opportunities for education, healthcare, and jobs.
More digital opportunities for more individuals
Through collaboration with Microsoft’s Airband Initiative, organizations receive further assistance in developing the infrastructure required to provide connectivity support in a variety of ecosystems, which ultimately supports self-empowerment and sustainable development and growth. These collaborations are critical in giving local expertise and experience to assist achieve a larger goal connected to what can be harnessed with connectivity support.
As technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI), progresses, being linked gives a road forward for empowering every person and business on the planet to do more.