01 February 2023
Microsoft and Viasat have announced a new partnership to help deliver internet access to 10 million people around the globe, including 5 million across Africa.
Viasat is the first satellite partner to work with Microsoft’s Airband Initiative and together, they will deepen Airband’s work in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Guatemala, Mexico, and the US, and expand the program to Senegal and Angola to deliver much needed internet connection.
This first of its kind global partnership for Airband is an important step in reaching the initiative’s expanded goal of delivering internet access to a quarter of a billion people across the world, including 100 million people on Africa, by the end of 2025.
Microsoft and Viasat will combine expertise and assets to help enable telehealth, distance learning and education, precision agriculture, clean power and other services to reach new areas through the transformational provision of power and connectivity. The companies will collaborate to provide and pilot technologies including, but not limited to, GEO and LEO satellites and fixed wireless.
“While the African opportunity is immense, one of the challenges facing the continent is infrastructure expansion which would enable the acceleration of digital transformation and facilitate a connected African continent,” said Kunle Awosika, managing director, Africa Transformation Office. “Critical infrastructure enablers are needed to accelerate digital transformation and the adoption of digital technologies. The Airband Initiative is vital in helping to accelerate broadband access for rural communities.”
Universal, affordable internet access is part of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and by focusing a large portion of this new partnership on Africa, Microsoft and Viasat are working to deliver connectivity and digital literacy for better education, healthcare, and economic opportunity in critical markets.
“Connecting the world is an expansive and challenging goal, and we believe it is equally important that it is done in a way that is sustainable, responsible, and inclusive,” said Mark Dankberg, CEO and chairman, Viasat. “Viasat’s mission is to keep space safe and accessible for everyone by responsibly using it as a shared resource to benefit humanity. The partnership with Microsoft is another important step in bringing affordable internet service across Africa, Latin America, and the US, as both companies continue breaking down barriers to bridge the digital divide and make significant progress towards digital equity and inclusion.”