Japanese multinational, SoftBank, and Smart Africa, an alliance of 32 African countries and organisations pushing to accelerate digitalisation across the continent, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on solutions to provide affordable broadband and internet connectivity to Africa’s underserved regions.
According to Smart Africa, their goal is to double broadband penetration to 51 percent in Africa by 2025. As of 2017, 18 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s population was using the internet, according to World Bank data. SoftBank says it will deploy its Non-Terrestrial Network (NTN) Solutions to reduce internet costs and build affordable internet infrastructure.
SoftBank and Smart Africa say they will begin their collaboration by identifying demand for NTN solutions and conducting further feasibility studies in five African countries: Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco and Rwanda
Low internet penetration and high access costs have served as one barrier to the uptake of e-commerce on the continent. Increased services that can help increase connectivity and bring down costs will help contribute to growing the continent’s $20 billion e-commerce opportunity.