Microsoft and Liquid to bring connectivity to 20 million underserved people in Africa by 2025
Microsoft has entered into a new agreement with Liquid Intelligent Technologies to make internet coverage available to an additional 20 million people in Africa by 2025.
The program will be implemented through Microsoft’s Airband Initiative which seeks to make affordable broadband access a reality for unserved and underserved communities around the world.
The initiative brings together a wide-ranging ecosystem to design, implement and support locally relevant connectivity programs including middle-mile broadband providers, local ISPs for last-mile connectivity, energy partners, international organizations and local governments.
Working together, the two companies will empower individuals and businesses in some of the United Nation’s least developed countries to help bridge the digital divide and assist in transitioning more African countries into the digital economy.
Liquid operates Africa’s largest independently owned network with over 100,000 kilometers (62,000 miles) of fiber stretching across the continent.
This program is expected to reach a number of markets across Africa including LDCs such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Zambia. Additionally, the partnership will increase the availability of high-speed connectivity in Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, and South Africa.
”This partnership marks an additional milestone on Microsoft’s recent 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. ” Microsoft’s Vice Chair and President Brad Smith said.
While the accelerated adoption of digital technologies on the continent has increased exponentially, it has also exacerbated the digital divide in Africa, as none of these technologies can be optimally used unless Africans have access to high-speed connectivity.
“Access to high-speed connectivity is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity. With a fibre backbone of over 100,000 km across the continent, Liquid is uniquely positioned to bring high-speed connectivity to the remotest of communities. Our vision is to create a digitally connected future that leaves no African behind, and this is just one more investment from us to realise the vision,” said Nic Rudnick, Group Deputy Chairman of Liquid Intelligent Technologies.
At the same time, Microsoft has also announced that it has partnered with the International Organization of Employers and partner Synapse to train 5,000 youth and women entrepreneurs in DRC, Lesotho, Senegal and Uganda.
Selected entrepreneurs will learn digital, business and employability skills through the company’s Skills for Jobs program. Microsoft says one piece of the program is focused on helping grow the cybersecurity talent pool including in Africa through free access to LinkedIn cybersecurity courses.
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