Following the lead of co-founder Bill Gates Microsoft is taking more interest in Africa, announcing its 4Afrika Initiative with a stated aim of improving the continent’s global competitiveness. There are several plans under way as a part of the project. The company alongside its partners at the Department of Science and Technology (DST), the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the University of Limpopo, and local networking firm Multisource, with regulatory support from the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa is about to illustrate that potential through a new trial in Limpopo.
In the whole of Africa, just 15.6 percent of residents are connected to the internet, which is under half of the world average. It’s also home to vast, inhospitable landscapes that are economically inviable to crisscross with fiber. All of that being said, nearly a sixth of the globe’s population resides on the continent, representing a monumental opportunity for something — anything — to connect the next billion people. As it turns out, there are actions presently ongoing to make a significant mark in the course of history. Google, Microsoft, Carlson Wireless, Tertiary Education and Research Network of South Africa (TENET) and a host of other powerful entities are collaborating to bring high-speed internet to an underserved continent via TV white spaces — a low-cost, highly adaptable technology that’s poised to explode.
[quote_left]For now, Limpopo is acting as a proving ground for what will eventually be a far larger experiment.[/quote_left]
A trio of base stations at the University of Limpopo will supply five nearby primary and secondary schools with internet access and teaching techniques that will make them more employable in future. With this Microsoft is picking the safest frequencies from a database and is measuring the results for the sake of both nervous broadcasters and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa. If all goes well, it should make a case for full approval of white space use across the country and deliver internet access to remote areas that risk being left by the technological wayside.