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By harnessing the power of satellite connectivity to provide fast, affordable, and reliable internet access in rural and underserved communities in sub-saharan Africa, Eutelsat Communications is utilizing Facebook's Express Wi-Fi platform with Eutelsat Konnect to bridge the digital divide.

According to UNICEF and Intensive Therapy Unit (ITU), access to internet is uneven across Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2019, only 10 of 45 African countries tracked by the Alliance for Affordable Internet were able to afford internet connectivity. Nine out of 10 school-aged children in the region are not connected to the internet at all.

With Express Wi-Fi, Eutelsat aims to connect thousands of people in rural and underserved communities spanning Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria, Côte d'Ivoire, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Kenya, Madagascar, South Africa, Cameroon, Ghana and Zimbabwe.

Developed by Facebook Connectivity, Express Wi-Fi platform enables partners to build, grow and monetize their Wi-Fi businesses in a scalable way. Express Wi-Fi is used in more than 30 countries, including in multiple Asian, South American and African markets, helping millions of people connect over Wi-Fi.

Eutelsat and Facebook have previously conducted successful pilots in rural and underserved areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) enabling local businesses to offer affordable internet access to customers on a pre-paid basis. To date, Eutelsat’s use of the Express Wi-Fi platform has enabled access to affordable broadband for thousands of individuals across the DRC.

Commenting on the partnership, Philippe Baudrier, general manager of Konnect Africa said, “We are delighted to partner with Facebook in this ambitious scheme, aimed at getting more people online in the most underserved areas of sub-Saharan Africa. This initiative is the perfect example of the power of satellite connectivity to bridge the digital divide, with unmatched economic and social benefits. We are proud once again to leverage the unparalleled coverage of Eutelsat Konnect to satisfy this growing demand.”

Meanwhile, Fargani Tambeayuk, head of connectivity policy for Sub-Saharan Africa, Facebook, said, “At Facebook, we’re committed to working with partners to help expand connectivity in Sub-Saharan Africa, which continues to be the region with the highest coverage gap. Connectivity is essential to ensuring access to jobs, education, healthcare and more. We’re proud to partner with Eutelsat to combine the power of the Express Wi-Fi platform and Eutelsat Konnect, with the goal of increasing satellite broadband coverage across rural and underserved areas of Sub-Saharan Africa.”

Eutelsat recently said that it would invest $550 million in satellite operator OneWeb for broadband satellite internet service project.

"OneWeb will be the first complete non-geostationary constellation with truly global coverage, significantly ahead of competing projects," Eutelsat said in a statement.

Nearly half of the world's population lack internet access, hindering access to jobs, education, healthcare, connections and critical information.

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