Microsoft seeks to bring satellite internet for millions in Egypt, African countries

Microsoft has announced on Wednesday about its plans to bring internet access via satellite to 10 million people, half of them in Africa, as part of efforts to bridge a digital divide with the developing world.

The satellite project would start immediately with a priority on bringing internet for the first time to parts of Egypt, Senegal and Angola, according to a summit with African leaders in Washington led by President Joe Biden.

Meanwhile, Microsoft would also provide internet in partnership with satellite provider Viasat in Guatemala, Mexico and more remote parts of the U.S. and also step up efforts in Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Microsoft president Brad Smith said the biggest holdup to internet access has been the lack of electricity, which is not reliable for around half of Africans.

“… it’s hard for them to even to imagine that because electricity in my view is the greatest invention of the 19th century,” Smith said.

He said Microsoft was focused on finding low-cost solutions in areas where both the internet and electricity are absent, adding that in Africa, “there is no shortage of talent, but there is a huge shortage of opportunity.”

The latest effort is part of Microsoft’s Airband Initiative, which aims to provide internet access to 250 million people, 100 million of them in Africa, by the end of 2025.

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