US software giant Microsoft has announced a series of new and expanded partnerships across Latin America and Africa as part of its Airband initiative, which aims to improve connectivity to underserved and unserved communities. Through the following programmes, Microsoft says it will help provide internet access to nearly 40 million people across nine countries: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire.
Brazil: Microsoft and several NGOs are teaming up with Brisanet to extend internet access to eleven million people and support economic development in low-income regions of the country.
Chile: As part of local non-profit Fundacion Pais Digital’s connectivity initiative, which looks to improve access in rural areas of Biobio and Antofagasta, Mircosoft will help train and employ local community members to maintain the new networks, and extend access to an additional one million people by the end of 2025.
Colombia: Building on existing partnership with Anditel to provide coverage to more than 600,000 people in five years, the programme is now aiming to cover an additional three million people by the end of 2025. Anditel is also partnering with the government on its national connectivity programme, through which it aims to cover 85% of the population by 2026.
Guatemala: Microsoft is supporting Wayfree’s deployment of wireless access zones in towns and villages. Wayfree has extended the system to 40% of the 340 municipalities it is targeting, and Microsoft claims that its involvement will accelerate the remaining deployments, ultimately providing internet access to three million Guatemalans by the end of 2025.
Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda: Microsoft is building on its existing partnership with Kenyan service provider Mawingu, with which it has worked since 2014. The new project will see Microsoft and Mawingu extend coverage to 16 million people across the three countries by the end of 2025, with the goal of increasing that total to 20 million.
Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire: Microsoft is also expanding its partnership with Nigerian service provider Tizeti to encompass Cote d’Ivoire. The new project looks to extend coverage to nearly five million people. The company noted that, due to the unreliable provision of energy in the region, the expanded partnership includes infrastructure support and the deployment of eight solar powered towers.