Microsoft Airband to Connect nearly 40 Million People across Latin America and Africa
Microsoft Airband Initiative GM, Vickie Robinson (Article: Microsoft)
Microsoft is announcing new and expanded Airband partnerships set to provide high-speed internet access to nearly 40 million people across Latin America and Africa. These partnerships in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala and Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda mark significant progress in our commitment to extend high-speed internet access to 250 million people living in unserved and underserved areas around the world, including 100 million in Africa.
Across both Latin America and Africa, limited access to broadband can mean that people have fewer opportunities to develop the digital fluency and skills needed to participate in the digital economy.
At Microsoft, we believe that internet access and meaningful connectivity is a fundamental right. The Microsoft Airband initiative was launched to bring transformative connectivity to unserved and underserved communities around the world. Through the Airband initiative and its partners, Microsoft is serving as a catalyst to enable affordable access to connectivity, specifically focusing on regions with lower digital connectivity rates.
Connecting communities across Latin America
In recent years, about 37 percent of Latin Americans in rural areas have connectivity options, compared with 71% of the urban population. Airband together with Wayfree in Guatemala, Fundacion Pais Digital in Chile, Brisanet in Brazil, and Anditel in Colombia will deliver 18 million people with access to high-speed internet.
Latin America combines thriving urban cities and rural areas with vast cultural heritage sites, however, like most places, there are unique challenges in advancing connectivity in certain regions. With greater access to the internet, Airband through its partners, hope to address societal issues, such as employment and education that can be strengthened through greater connectivity.
- Brazil: Airband is expanding our footprint to Brazil, the largest market in Latin America, as part of our new partnership with Brisanet. Working with Microsoft and NGOs like Amigos do Bem and Mais Unidos, Brisanet will extend high-speed internet access to more than 11 million people and support social and economic development in low-income regions of the country.
- Chile: Fundación País Digital is a nonprofit organization working to develop Chile’s digital economy, expand connectivity, and improve digital literacy throughout the country. Through their newest initiative, Programa Conectando Territorios, Fundación País Digital will expand connectivity to rural and underserved areas in two regions: the Biobío Region in central Chile, which has been significantly impacted by earthquakes; and the Antofagasta Region, known for its mining industry. With Airband support, in addition to connectivity, the program will target economic opportunities through training and employing local community members to maintain the new networks and will bring internet access to an additional one million people by the end of 2025.
- Colombia: Our commitment with longtime partner Anditel to provide coverage for more than 600,000 people in five years has gone well ahead of plan. To date we have nearly doubled that target and are now expanding our partnership to cover an additional three million people by the end of 2025. Partnering with the Colombian government on ICT 360, the national connectivity program, Anditel aims to cover 85% of Colombians by 2026.
- Guatemala: Wayfree is the leading provider of Internet connectivity in Guatemala. They are deploying wireless access zones in towns and villages, already covering over 40 percent of the 340 Guatemalan municipalities with the goal of making universal wireless internet access a reality. Airband’s support will catalyze deployments in the remaining municipalities in Guatemala and ultimately provide three million people with access to high-speed internet coverage by the end of 2025.
Crossing the continent of Africa
Our efforts on the African continent are some of our most longstanding and farthest reaching. Today many African nations are rising economic powers, but on a continent with so many vast rural areas, delivering connectivity can be a challenge. On average Africa has a 40 percent internet usage rate. Partnerships are key to the success of the Airband model, and we are building upon our existing partnerships in Africa, including with Mawingu and Tizeti.
- Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda: Microsoft Airband’s relationship with Kenyan service provider Mawingu began in 2014 with a pilot in Nanyuki and has since expanded to deliver high-speed internet access to four million Kenyans living in rural areas. Mawingu was Airband’s first partner, and thanks to the public-partnership model, today the company is Kenya’s leading internet service provider dedicated to rural and peri-urban markets. This latest expansion of our partnership with Mawingu will bring coverage to an incremental 16 million people across Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda by the end of 2025, ultimately covering a total of 20 million people.
Mawingu provides meaningful internet access to locations throughout Kenya, such as hotspots, vocational schools and businesses. Just one example of Airband’s partnership has resulted in the deployment of more than 700 hotspots and connectivity for more than 100 primary schools, enabling community members to access digital skills training and essential education materials. The company has also partnered with Unilever and Microsoft Philanthropies to provide access and skills to female entrepreneurs.
- Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire: Airband partner Tizeti has brought coverage to more than 900,000 people in Nigeria, expanding from Lagos to focus on underserved states across the country. Microsoft and Tizeti are expanding this partnership to Cote d’Ivoire, a cultural crossroads of West Africa, to bring internet access to almost 5 million people. Given that electricity is frequently unavailable, insufficient or unreliable in many parts of Africa, this expansion of our partnership includes infrastructure support and deployment of eight solar powered towers to help provide connectivity to households, small businesses and hotspots. This access will empower greater access to education, healthcare, and employment.
Bringing more digital opportunities to more people
Through partnering with Microsoft’s Airband Initiative, organizations have additional support to create the infrastructure needed to provide connectivity support in many different ecosystems that ultimately drives self-empowerment and sustainable development and growth. These partnerships are essential in providing local expertise and experience to help achieve a greater goal tied to what can be harnessed with the support of connectivity.
As technology, like AI, advances, being connected provides a path forward to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.
Yellow Card and Tether join forces to drive stablecoin education and adoption
Yellow Card, a leading pan-African fintech and cryptocurrency exchange, and Tether, the world’s largest stablecoin provider, are pleased to announce the successful completion of Phase 1 of their strategic collaboration across three key African markets. The two-month collaboration focused on raising awareness, providing education and driving adoption of USD₮, Tether’s stablecoin, among students and young professionals in Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana. Activities included Financial Literacy Tours in universities and a canvassing campaign which involved Yellow Cards Brand Ambassadors engaging with individuals across major cities in the three countries.
Over 10,000 young people were reached – including students drawn from the six universities where the Financial Literacy Tour events were held among them University of Nairobi in Kenya, University of Benin in Nigeria and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana. Those who attended the events received insights into the mechanics of stablecoins, gained a deeper understanding of the blockchain technology and also learned about the importance of responsible financial decision-making. In addition, they each received their first USD₮ on the Yellow Card platform.
“Our collaboration with Tether has provided us with a remarkable opportunity to witness the profound impact that financial education has on the youth. This collaboration aligns seamlessly with our overarching mission to promote financial freedom for all, which encompasses our other initiatives like the Financial Literacy Tour and the YC Academy. As crypto adoption grows in Africa so does the need for financial education,” said Peter Mureu, Director of Marketing at Yellow Card.
Between 2021 and 2022, cryptocurrency adoption in Africa surged by 1200%, necessitating a rapid increase in education. Despite the potential for cryptocurrencies to play a vital role in the future, there remains considerable hesitancy among companies and individuals to embrace this emerging currency. This reluctance can be attributed to a widespread lack of awareness and understanding of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. The Yellow Card and Tether collaboration aims to play a pivotal role in bridging this knowledge gap.
Stablecoins, such as USD₮, address unique challenges in Africa by offering practical solutions. Given the substantial remittances African countries receive from the diaspora populations working abroad, Tether provides a convenient and cost-effective method for cross-border payments, reducing reliance on traditional channels with high fees and delays. Moreover, USD₮ empowers gig economy workers to receive fast and secure payments instantly across borders, bypassing intermediaries like banks or payment processors.
“We recognize Africa as a pivotal player in the cryptocurrency and stablecoin market,” said Paolo Ardoino, CTO of Tether. “The continent has demonstrated remarkable potential for growth and innovation in the digital currency space. Africa’s increasing cryptocurrency adoption and the demand for stablecoins highlight the need for accessible and efficient financial solutions. Tether is committed to addressing the unique challenges faced by African communities through our collaboration with Yellow Card. Our stablecoin, USD₮, provides practical solutions for cross-border payments and empowers individuals, including gig economy workers, to receive fast and secure transactions, bypassing traditional intermediaries.”
Amadeus signs enhanced technology collaboration with EgyptAir
Amadeus has signed a long-term, comprehensive technology partnership with EgyptAir. The deal is an extension of an existing relationship between the Egyptian flag-carrier and one of the world’s travel technology leaders and comes as the airline refreshes its digital offering ahead of a renewed period of growth.
Yehia Zakaria, chief executive, EgyptAir Group, said: “Amadeus is in a position to support EgyptAir throughout its digital transformation, allowing us to provide customers with a best-in-class travel experience. Once these advanced solutions, including a new digital e-commerce platform are fully implemented, our employees will have the freedom and flexibility to better serve our passengers around the world.”
Included in the deal is Amadeus Revenue Management, which accurately forecasts demand by analyzing customer purchase behavior, competitor pricing, and yield capacity. New digital solutions will also deliver a frictionless web and mobile experience to travelers while Amadeus Altéa Booking Intelligence will help minimize fraud. Finally, EgyptAir will migrate to a new loyalty platform, where members will benefit from customer-centric experiences based upon traveler insights.
Maher Koubaa, Vice President, EMEA, Airlines, Amadeus, said: “Amadeus has long been a trusted partner of EgyptAir and the renewal we have signed will extend the relationship for many years to come. It also deepens the connection, with the flag-carrier positioning itself for future growth in the Middle East and beyond, thanks to the digital upgrade and operational enhancements that this suite of innovative solutions will deliver for EgyptAir, its staff and customers.”
Amadeus continues to build its position in Egypt and the Middle East, with discussions ongoing with a number of other carriers in the region.
EgyptAir is the state-owned flag carrier of Egypt. The airline is headquartered at Cairo International Airport, its main hub, and operates scheduled passenger and freight services to 81 destinations in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. EgyptAir is a member of Star Alliance.
AstraZeneca launches Africa Health Innovation Hub to increase access to healthcare
AstraZeneca, a leading global pharmaceutical company, launched the Africa Health Innovation Hub today. This ground-breaking initiative highlights the company’s commitment to healthcare equity and fostering partnerships with a range of stakeholders, including governments, healthcare societies, academia, healthcare providers and patient advocacy groups, to better improve patient outcomes. Building on AstraZeneca’s work in Africa, the hub aims to use the latest science and technology to improve access to healthcare for patients on the continent.
The Africa Health Innovation Hub is the latest in the global A. Catalyst Network, a connected array of over 20 hubs worldwide. This network seeks to tackle current healthcare challenges through collaborative innovation, promote affordable and equitable healthcare access, and amplify patient-centred innovation through strategic alliances within the healthcare ecosystem.
Last year, AstraZeneca joined the WEF Edison Alliance, a public-private partnership that aims to improve the lives of 1 billion people through digital inclusion by 2025. The partnership reinforces our commitment to harnessing digital innovation to drive inclusion and equity across the healthcare ecosystem, therefore, will also be a strong facilitator of the Africa Hub.
Gagan Singh, Country President, African Cluster, AstraZeneca, stated, “AstraZeneca aims to strengthen and future-proof health systems across the whole patient journey, ensuring everyone has equitable and affordable access to the life-changing healthcare solutions they need, regardless of where they live. The launch of the Africa Health Innovation Hub is a significant step in our goal to unlock digital transformation and innovation in health across the continent, paving the way for patient-centric digital health solutions that leave no one behind. By working with partners across the continent, we are nurturing local talent and making quality health care more accessible for all.”
Partnering to bring our purpose to life
In Africa, two major new partnerships will form the backbone of the Hub in its initial phases:
- In South Africa, AstraZeneca is partnering with MEDSOL AI SOLUTIONS to help promote the use of AI in the detection of disease through a state-of-the-art Wi-Fi ultrasound probe that can detect breast cancer in seconds. The Melusi Breast AI rapid detection app will be rolled out in rural clinics to help in early detection of the disease, supported by a dedicated referral system so that women with positive detection of breast cancer can be offered a quicker turnaround time for therapeutic intervention.
Dr Kathryn Malherbe (PhD), CEO & Founder of MedSol AI Solutions said, “Medsol AI is excited to be leading one of the inaugural projects of the Africa Innovation Hub, with support from AstraZeneca. Breast cancer is a devastating disease, with many women in our communities only able to access late-stage diagnoses. The Melusi Breast AI project will enable us to leverage technology and innovation to improve early diagnostic detection rates and patient outcomes in local clinics, ultimately saving lives.”
- In Kenya, the company is expanding an already successful collaboration with Tricog Health Limited. After a few years of piloting an AI technology that connects ACS patients to health professionals and route them to the appropriate facilities, enabling early cardio-renal complications to be addressed in India, the African hub aims to enhance early diagnosis and treatment of Heart Failure using Tricog’s InstaECG AI tools for rapid diagnosis, reducing mortality rates and improving quality of life.
Dr. Charit Bhograj, CEO & Founder Tricog Health Limited added, “non-communicable diseases, including heart disease, are on the rise in Kenya and across Africa, and we know that the earlier these conditions are diagnosed, the better chance it is for patients to continue to live long healthy lives. By investing in digital health technology, the Africa Health Innovation Hub is enabling the use of advanced AI to screen and diagnose patients remotely, bringing high-quality health tools to people no matter where they live.”
Another partnership initiated last year and will officially form part of the Africa Health Innovation Hub is the Fuel Africa programme, launched by Futurize. This is the largest healthcare entrepreneurship programme on the continent, bringing together the brightest minds across universities in Sub-Saharan Africa to address some of Africa’s most pressing challenges in healthcare. For the second year in a row, AstraZeneca’s A. Catalyst Network partnered with Futurize to reinforce our strong commitment to fostering innovation in the continent by developing local talents.
Official kick off to AstraZeneca’s health innovation hub in Africa
The official launch event – which marked the launch of the hub and the kick off of the Medsol AI partnership – took place at the Daspoort Poli Clinic in Pretoria, South Africa, where healthcare practitioners were able to demonstrate the use of the Melusi Breast AI device in a community clinic setting, which is one of the first points of contact for clinical breast examinations and breast cancer screening for patients.
The Africa Health Innovation Hub will also invest in building local talent, promote policy change for cancer screening, close the gaps in healthcare access and improve the quality of life for patients in the African region, particularly in rural and underserved communities. These objectives are aligned with the four pillars of AstraZeneca’s A. Catalyst Network: Education and Awareness, Early Diagnosis and Referral, Connectivity and Technology, and Data Generation.
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