Microsoft has announced plans to facilitate Internet access via satellite for 10 million people worldwide, half of them in Africa, as part of efforts to bridge the persistent digital divide between rich and poor. The tech giant intends to execute this project immediately to bring Internet access for the first time to remote regions in Egypt, Senegal and Angola, Microsoft president Brad told AFP. Smith on the sidelines of a summit in Washington that brings together 49 African leaders.
“Africa is not short of talent, but there is a huge lack of opportunity,” Smith said, saying he was impressed by the engineers in Nairobi and Lagos. As part of this partnership with supplier Viasat, Microsoft also aims to facilitate Internet access in countries such as Guatemala and Mexico, as well as Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to Mr. Smith is one of the big problems access to electricity, while almost half of the African continent does not necessarily have it reliably. “For those who have never been there or don’t think too much about Africa, it’s hard to believe,” he said, saying that “electricity was the most important invention of the 19th century”. Microsoft intends to concentrate its efforts on finding low-cost ways to facilitate access to electricity and the Internet in the most remote regions, he assured.
The head of Microsoft again emphasized the support, according to him, of African leaders who are quick to deregulate in this area. “Even in countries where the challenge of authoritarianism is emerging, I think it’s more likely that governments want to control what’s on the Internet than how accessible it is,” he said. Today, about 5.3 billion people, or 66% of the world’s population, use the Internet. Almost all of those not connected are in the poorest countries, according to a recent report on global connectivity by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).