Making Wi-Fi available to 1,400 community sites across Sub-Saharan Africa over the next two years is an admirable goal that Avanti Communications Group plc (“Avanti”) has set out to achieve with the help of others.
Avanti, a provider of satellite data communications services in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), has begun a new contract with the European Space Agency (“ESA”) through its ARTES Partner program that provides affordable satellite broadband connectivity to 1,400 community sites across Sub-Saharan Africa over the next two years using Avanti’s new ECO Wi-Fi hotspot initiative, launched today.
ESA will contribute up to 10.7 million euros in funding that Avanti will use to bring rural communities across Africa online. To deploy the advanced new technology platform, Avanti will partner with Newtec and a group of leading Service Providers, combining satellite, Wi-Fi and solar power, to deliver the program in the market.
Memorandums of Understanding on ECO have been signed with the South African Ministry of Communications and Sentech in South Africa; Wananchi, Intersat and Imarasat in Kenya; and the Tanzania Education Authority.
Many other governments, Service Providers and other Avanti partners have expressed support for the ECO initiative. This includes:
- World Bank International Finance Corporation
- Telkom Kenya
- Internet Solutions,
- iSat Africa
- Discovery Learning Alliance
Solar-powered ECO Wi-Fi hotspots will be hosted at schools that will benefit from subsidised Internet access. Consumers and local businesses, within range of the ECO Wi-Fi hotspot, will use the ECO mobile payment app (newly developed by Avanti) to make micropayments for broadband credits which convert to data usage.
Magali Vaissiere, Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications at the European Space Agency (ESA), said, “As part of the ARTES Partner program, we are excited to support and contribute to the ECO program as it launches today. By doing so, ESA is investing in European ground infrastructure and fostering the delivery of satellite services in global markets. We look forward to working with Avanti in Sub-Saharan Africa to support better education outcomes and to unlock new business opportunities for both local Service Providers and European industry technology providers. Additionally we are happy to provide a connectivity platform that will ensure many long term NGO and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives are sustainable.”
David Williams, Chief Executive Officer of Avanti, said, “Through product innovation and a partner strategy we have found an economically viable way to deliver broadband to low income customers in rural Africa. Working with governments and local service providers, and with support from ESA, this first project is a significant step towards creating something that will address a need across the entire continent.”