OneWeb has signed a partnership agreement with Airtel Africa to deliver OneWeb’s high speed, low-latency Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite connectivity services to government and enterprise customers across wide swathes of the continent. Trials are being held in South Africa, to be followed by a commercial service rollout across Airtel’s 14-country mobile network footprint in East, Central and West Africa in 2023.
The partnership will focus on delivering satellite communications services to enterprise and civil government customers for a wide range of use cases, including for connectivity in rural areas, agriculture, hospitals, hotels, schools, and in the energy and mining sectors. OneWeb and Airtel Africa will also provide critical backhaul in unserved and underserved regions. The announcement builds upon OneWeb’s existing initiatives in Africa, including installations of Satellite Network Portals (SNP) in Angola, South Africa, Ghana, Senegal and Mauritius. A press release added: ‘With only four more launches to go, OneWeb also remains on track to activate its coverage solutions in Africa, and elsewhere around the world, in 2023.’
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that Airtel Africa is majority owned by Indian telecoms group Bharti Airtel and is listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), with mobile divisions in 14 countries: Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Gabon, Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Niger, Chad and Seychelles. As disclosed in its most recent quarterly results, Airtel Africa’s total subscriptions grew to 134.7 million at end-September 2022 from 122.7 million twelve months earlier. The wider Bharti group is a major shareholder in OneWeb via Bharti Space (formerly via Bharti Global). OneWeb’s other major shareholders include: the UK government, Eutelsat, SoftBank, EchoStar/Hughes and Hanwha Systems. OneWeb’s executive chairman is Sunil Bharti Mittal, who is the founder and chairman of Bharti Enterprises and Bharti Airtel.