SoftBank and Smart Africa sign MoU to provide affordable broadband solutions
SoftBank will explore the deployment of non-terrestrial network (NTN) solutions in appropriate regions of Africa to connect the unconnected.
SoftBank Corp. and the Smart Africa Secretariat signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate on new solutions aimed at realizing the vision of providing affordable broadband. Through this partnership, SoftBank and Smart Africa will strive to bridge the digital divide by providing accessible and affordable internet connectivity to underserved regions of Africa.
Through various projects and activities, Smart Africa’s strategy is to double broadband penetration to 51% in Africa by 2025. As part of realizing this vision, Smart Africa is working on the implementation of the project. ‘Bulk Capacity Purchase, an initiative that aims to provide affordable Internet access. connectivity for African citizens through the large-scale joint procurement efforts of Smart Africa member countries. To contribute to the project, SoftBank will deploy its non-terrestrial network (NTN) solutions to reduce Internet costs and build affordable Internet infrastructure. SoftBank also became a Gold member of Smart Africa in October 2020.
SoftBank’s NTN solutions will use connectivity services from OneWeb, Skylo and HAPSMobile, among other solutions, which provide connectivity from space and the stratosphere. SoftBank aims to deploy NTN solutions in African markets by collaborating with Smart Africa and working closely with its member countries.
SoftBank and Smart Africa will begin their collaboration by identifying demand for NTN solutions and conducting further feasibility studies in the five African countries that have already expressed interest in the bulk capacity purchase project (Republic of Djibouti, Republic of Arab of Egypt, Republic of Kenya, Kingdom of Morocco and Republic of Rwanda). SoftBank and Smart Africa will also develop implementation plans and examine potential market entries in the future.
The collaboration will also align with the core principles of Smart Africa’s goal, which is the achievement of a single digital market on the continent through information and communication technologies (ICT). To bridge the digital divide, SoftBank and Smart Africa will also explore ways to collaborate and engage with organizations such as the HAPS Alliance, which seeks to promote commercial adoption of HAPS, among others. In addition, through a series of commitments in the coming future, this partnership will also strive to contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by providing digital solutions that respond to societal challenges.
Commenting on the agreement, Lacina Koné, CEO of Smart Africa, said: “The vision of transforming Africa into a digital single market requires us to embrace partnerships. Therefore, we are honored to welcome SoftBank Corp. in the Smart Africa Alliance. Together, we will be able to inject more innovation into Africa’s digital innovation as we move towards creating a single digital market by 2030. ”
Hidebumi Kitahara, vice president of SoftBank Corp. and Head of the Technology Unit’s Global Business Strategy Division, added, “We believe our NTN solutions will be extremely effective technologies in providing connectivity to African countries and regions that do not have sufficient Internet access. With our NTN solutions powered by OneWeb, Skylo and HAPSMobile, we will work closely with Smart Africa to provide telecommunications networks.