Poor Internet Access
One fourth of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa lacks mobile broadband coverage. This rate is more than three times the global rate. And only 22 percent of the content has Internet connection compared to 80 percent of Europe and 66 percent of the Americas. While this percentage has been trending upward since 2014, it is still fair to say that Africa has a long way to go to improve its connectedness. One company, World Mobile, has taken note of this and is attempting to provide wireless connectivity in Africa by working with Altaeros, a balloon company. Read on to find out who World Mobile is and how they are trying to use hot air to bridge the gap to internet connectivity in Zanzibar, Africa.
Who is World Mobile?
World Mobile is a mobile network company “founded with a far-reaching goal: to connect everyone, everywhere while advocating for economic freedom and dignity.” How is World Mobile any different than your standard run-of-the-mill internet company? They are based on blockchain and the sharing economy and aim to allow business owners in areas lacking connectivity to operate nodes on their network. Users can also earn World Mobile Tokens that can pay for connection and services to node owners.
What are nodes? Users connect to Air Nodes, which send authentication data to Earth Nodes to confirm the user’s identity so the Earth Node can show the account balance and services available to the user. Meanwhile, the Air Node generates data on the interaction that is sent to the Earth node for validation. Not only is their goal to bring internet connectivity to Africa, but they are also attempting to solve the issue many Africans face in lacking personal identification by creating digital IDs that allow for access to banking, education, and healthcare.
So far, World Mobile has already successfully penetrated a fishing village in Tanzania, Africa. How exactly did they approach such a destitute village? They used renewable solar power and a hybrid unlicensed spectrum to 65 kilometers away from the village to connect Air Nodes that reach the village.
A “Hot” New Approach in Zanzibar
World Mobile has entered a partnership with eGovernment Agency of Zanzibar to connect state ministries, agencies, government offices, and public facilities and spaces to the internet as part of a five year plan to boost Zanzibar’s GDP. World Mobile has partnered with Altaeros, a tethered balloon company, as part of their mission.
Altaeros plans to use their SuperTower Aerostat tethered blimps that will contain solar-powered equipment. The blimps will have nodes that enable web browsing and email connectivity in Zanzibar. Each blimp will cover an approximate 70 kilometer radius and can stay airborne for two weeks before needing to refuel.
The end goal for Zanzibar is full coverage by the end of 2022. World Mobile also plans to work on installing terrestrial nodes with better internet speed that will enable streaming and gaming; the first balloon for this will launch in June.
Blowing Connectivity Away
One quarter of PureProfile investors believe Africa’s internet economy value will more than double in the next three years and over half the investors think it will come close to doubling. Now that World Mobile has dove into two African communities already, does this mean they will be a significant catalyst to this seemingly anticipated growth? Possibly, but that will largely depend on how involved they plan to be and how quickly they plan to permeate other communities.