Microsoft, Liquid Intelligent Technologies to Expand Internet Access in Africa by 20 Million

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Microsoft President Brad Smith

In this story…

  • Microsoft has announced new partnerships and initiatives for the 46 Least Developed Countries (LDCs).
  • Initiatives include expanding high-speed internet access to 20 million people in Africa and providing greater access to digital skills for women and girls.
  • Microsoft President Brad Smith emphasized the importance of public-private partnerships.
  • Partnerships include Liquid Intelligent Technologies to provide internet coverage to 20 million people in Africa, a training initiative for digital skills, and a collaboration with Planet Labs PBC and the Institute for Health Metrics & Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington to use AI and satellite imagery.

Microsoft has announced a number of new initiatives aimed at expanding digital infrastructure, digital skilling, and digital development in the world’s Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

The tech giant is collaborating with Liquid Intelligent Technologies to extend internet coverage to an additional 20 million people in Africa by 2025. This partnership will extend Microsoft’s Airband Initiative, which aims to extend high-speed access to people without it, to reach unserved and underserved areas, including LDCs such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia.

Microsoft is also partnering with the International Organization of Employers and Synapse to train 20,000 youth, women, and entrepreneurs in digital, business, and employability skills across four LDCs. As access to the internet expands, more resources will be needed to defend the growing digital ecosystem, and the company is focusing on growing the cybersecurity talent pool, including in Africa.

Furthermore, Microsoft is partnering with OCP Africa to scale its Digital Agriculture Platform, which offers fertilizer solutions adapted to local conditions and the needs of soils and crops across Africa, to better support farmers on the ground. The partnership will support 40 million farmers and agri-stakeholders in Africa by 2030.

Microsoft’s initiatives come ahead of the United Nations’ LDC5 Private Sector Forum, which will explore ways that digital development can accelerate sustainable development for LDCs. The private sector can play an important role in creating opportunities for the 880 million people living in LDCs, where only 36% of the population uses the internet today. The company’s ongoing commitment to the mission of the United Nations is a significant aspect of these initiatives.

Microsoft’s efforts aim to address the social, economic, and environmental challenges facing LDCs, which account for 13% of the world’s population but only about 1.5% of global GDP and less than 1% of global trade. By expanding digital infrastructure, digital skilling, and digital development, Microsoft is seeking to help make progress on the UN’s goal of accelerating sustainable development in LDCs.

Quotes

“Fifty years after the LDCs were classified by the UN as nations most in need of social, economic, and environmental opportunities to create growth, these 46 countries combined account for 13% of the world’s population, but only about 1.5% of global GDP and less than 1% of global trade. It is clear that more needs to be done,” says Brad Smith.

“The private sector can play an important role in creating opportunities for the 880 million people living in LDCs, where only 36% of the population uses the internet today, and it’s important for Microsoft to do its part. The need for public-private partnerships has never been clearer. This is not a philanthropic exercise, but rather a business imperative – And a call to action for all of us to do more,” he added.