Microsoft involved in spreading internet access in Africa with White Space ‘super-WIFI’


10, 2013 reports that, as part of its 4Afrika initiative, Microsoft is involved in a number of projects to spread internet access around Africa.

In Kenya they launched Project Mawingu, (‘Mawingu’ is Kiswahili for cloud) to deliver an affordable solar-powered ‘super WiFi’ service to 6,000 Kenyans who currently have no Internet access via unused TV radio frequencies, known as ‘white space’ spectrum.  Microsoft trialled the technology in USA but ran into opposition from TV companies due to potential interference. In Tanzania Microsoft also helped get tens of thousands of university students and staff better connected by installing low-cost wireless broadband at the University of Dar es Salaam.

The 4Afrika initiative also aims to place many millions of smart devices in the hands of young Africans, bring one million African small and medium enterprises online and a step closer to participating in the Internet economy, and help hundreds of thousands of Africans develop entrepreneurship and employability skills.

Microsoft reports In the 3 month period after the initiative’s launch they saw nearly 400 apps created by their AppFactory interns, and influenced more than 1,100 developers through DevCamps in Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda and Tunisia alone. They also trained 1,100 partners and government leaders across 14 countries through their Afrika Academy. With Huawei, they also launched the Huawei 4Afrika phone (above), running Windows Phone 8 and featuring Windows Phone apps designed by African developers. The phone is aimed at university students, developers and first-time smartphone users.

For businesses, Microsoft will also soon be opening an online hub aggregating free Microsoft and non-Microsoft resources to help small African businesses expand locally, increase their competitiveness and find new business opportunities outside of their common business locations.

Google has started similar initiatives in Africa, and with the continent expected to have growth rates of 7 or 8 percent, compared to a global average of 4 percent, it seems the region will become another battle ground between the two great companies.


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