If we can connect the moon – why not Africa?

08 May 2024

Nokia Bell Labs has recently been selected to participate in the 10-Year Lunar Architecture (LunA-10) program, a U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) initiative that will design an integrated multi-service architecture to support a thriving economy on the Moon in the next decade and beyond. LunA-10 will design the essential infrastructure framework capable of supporting industrial activities, as well as scientific discovery.

Nokia will collaborate with the 13 other companies specialising in areas critical to establishing an integrated commercial economy on the Moon. Nokia Bell Labs will be responsible for recommending a reliable, high-performance communications infrastructure, and will work closely with other LunA-10 companies to ensure that infrastructure may be efficiently transported and built on the lunar surface and that it would have reliable power sources once installed.

At the program’s mid 2024 conclusion, LunA-10 will deliver a comprehensive blueprint for establishing the infrastructure necessary to support commercial operations on and around the lunar surface by 2035. Communications will be critical as virtually all use cases and applications require or benefit from high throughput, low latency, ultra-reliable and scalable communication capabilities. Networks would allow astronauts to freely communicate directly and with mission control on Earth. Networks would transmit video and telemetry data from cameras and sensors spread across the Moon and integrated into spacesuits, vehicles, structures, and scientific experiments.

Networks would supply the connectivity necessary to control robots and automate dangerous tasks on the lunar surface.Exciting stuff indeed. But given that some 24% of Africa’s population remains without access to even 3G connectivity, one has to question whether we should be focusing on connecting Earth before the Moon?