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Digital Inclusion

Project Loon Seeks Operator Partners in Kenya

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Google's Project Loon, which aims to deliver wireless Internet connectivity to rural areas using a network of stratospheric balloons, is seeking telecom operator partners in Kenya.

The project, which is run by Google's X unit, needs partners that operate ground stations, which can then transmit a high-capacity wireless data signal to the nearest balloon, which then relays that signal to other balloons in the Loon network.

Google has 10 balloons, which float at very high altitudes, ready to deploy in Kenya and needs a local partner: So far it seems Telkom Kenya has held talks with the project but nothing has been concluded.

Kenya's government is Keen on Google's plans, according to a report in Business Daily. "It is companies such as X that innovate and provide solutions that benefit our city. We welcome the use of high-altitude balloons to create an aerial wireless network that offers real benefits to consumers," stated Sammy Itemere, principal secretary in the Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology (ICT).

Project Loon has been underway since 2013 and is set to continue its R&D work for some years yet. (See Oh, the Huge Manatee! Google's US Loon Tests Renewed Into 2020, Google Ready to Release Thousands of Loons and Broadband: It's All Hot Air for Google.)

At AfricaCom 2017, Alistair Westgarth, Head of Project Loon, explained how the project's balloons had helped provide connectivity to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria last autumn and how a single balloon could provide connectivity to a city twice the size of Cape Town. (See AfricaCom Day Two: The Technology Paradox.)

— The staff, Connecting Africa

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Meeting SME’s where they are - Building inclusive ecosystems for Africa’s small business owners

Micro and small businesses have been, and still are, the spine and lifeblood of the African economy, making up 90% of businesses on the continent.

Many of these businesses have still been operating in traditional ways and serving non-digital customers. With Covid-19 expediting the digital transformation process, businesses - big and small - have been forced to adapt to operate successfully in a more digital-first environment.

To ensure that the digitalization of Africa’s market doesn’t leave micro and small businesses behind, digital solutions must be inclusive and create business-ready environments. But how can we ensure that African SMEs become digitally enabled?

In this webinar we will share from our own experience on how to create such an environment, and the actions we took in vcita to get there, including:

  • Closing the digital literacy gap through tech inclusion 
  • Making a positive impact on local communities
  • Building the foundations for digital inclusion and small business growth in a technology-accelerated world
  • Building the foundations for digital inclusion and small business growth in a technology-accelerated world

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