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Microsoft to connect additional 40m in Africa, Latin America

Microsoft has today announced new and expanded Airband partnerships that are set to provide high-speed Internet access to nearly 40 million people across Africa and Latin America.

The company says these partnerships in Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Guatemala, mark significant progress in its commitment to extend high-speed Internet access to 250 million people living in unserved and underserved areas around the world, including 100 million in Africa.

The Microsoft Airband initiative seeks to close the digital divide and bring high-speed Internet connectivity to unconnected communities around the world.

Since 2017, the initiative has helped more than 33 million people in underserved communities, globally, gain access to affordable broadband coverage.

“We believe that Internet access and meaningful connectivity is a fundamental right. The Microsoft Airband initiative was launched to bring transformative connectivity to unserved and underserved communities around the world,” says Vickie Robinson, GM, Microsoft Airband Initiative.

Through the Airband initiative, Microsoft and its partners, Robinson says, are serving as a catalyst to enable affordable access to connectivity. The initiative is specifically focusing on regions with lower digital connectivity rates, she adds.

“Our efforts on the African continent are some of our most longstanding and farthest reaching. Today, many African nations are rising economic powers, but on a continent with so many vast rural areas, delivering connectivity can be a challenge.

“On average, Africa has a 40% Internet usage rate. Partnerships are key to the success of the Airband model, and we are building upon our existing partnerships in Africa, including with Mawingu and Tizeti,” Robinson says.

Detailing the partnerships, Robinson says in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, Microsoft Airband is expanding its long-running relationship with Kenyan service provider Mawingu.

“This latest expansion of our partnership with Mawingu will bring coverage to an incremental 16 million people across Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda by the end of 2025, ultimately covering a total of 20 million people,” she says.

In Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire, the Airband partner is Tizeti, which has brought coverage to more than 900,000 people in Nigeria, expanding from Lagos to focus on underserved states across the country.

Robinson says: “Microsoft and Tizeti are expanding this partnership to Cote d’Ivoire, a cultural crossroads of West Africa, to bring Internet access to almost 5 million people.”

Commenting on the partnership with Microsoft, Tizeti CEO, Kendall Ananyi says: "Our mission at Tizeti is to bring affordable and reliable Internet to more Africans outside the digital envelope. 

"This partnership is a significant step forward in achieving that goal. This work with Microsoft continues our joint efforts to deliver world-class Internet connectivity to the people of Africa, starting with Nigeria and now Cote d’Ivoire."

According to Robinson, through partnering with Microsoft’s Airband Initiative, organisations have additional support to create the infrastructure needed to provide connectivity support in many different ecosystems that ultimately drives self-empowerment and sustainable development and growth.

She explains: “These partnerships are essential in providing local expertise and experience to help achieve a greater goal tied to what can be harnessed with the support of connectivity.”

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