SoftBank and Smart Africa announce partnership to boost African broadband penetration

SoftBank Group and Smart Africa Alliance have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) focusing on new ways to provide affordable and accessible internet connectivity to Africa’s underserved regions and to bridge the digital divide on the continent.

Through various projects and activities, Smart Africa – an alliance between 32 African countries, international organisations and private sector multinationals – has an ambitious strategy to double broadband penetration to 51% in Africa by 2025.

As part of the MoU with Smart Africa, Japanese banking giant SoftBank will deploy its Non-Terrestrial Network (NTN) solutions within Smart Africa’s Bulk Capacity Purchase Project, which aims to deliver connectivity to Africans via large-scale joint procurement efforts.

Already a Smart Africa Gold Member, SoftBank aims to reduce internet costs and build affordable internet infrastructure in African markets through its NTN service.

The two organisations 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: Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco and Rwanda.

“We believe our NTN solutions will be highly effective technologies to provide connectivity to African countries and regions that lack sufficient Internet access, and we will work closely with Smart Africa to provide telecommunication networks,” said Hidebumi Kitahara, SoftBank’s vice president and head of the technology unit’s global business strategy division.