A unique balloon-driven hybrid mobile network is being launched in Zanzibar. Expected to provide full consumer retail and Internet of Things (IOT) coverage in Zanzibar within 24 months, this innovative service aims to bring cost-effective and reliable mobile internet to more people in least cost on the whole African continent.
World Mobile is launching its unique hybrid mobile network supported by low-altitude platform balloons in Zanzibar, as it plans to roll out its innovative service providing reliable mobile internet to more people at lower cost across the African continent.
The network’s balloons will be the first to be officially launched in Africa for commercial purposes, offering a more cost-effective way of providing a digital connection to people compared to deploying existing internet infrastructure. Remote-controlled aerostat balloons are powered by solar panels, inflated with helium and attached to the ground. Once in flight, they act as floating cellular base stations transmitting radio signals to ground stations and personal devices.
The project – the first since a successful fundraising of $40 million – will provide coverage and access to the digital economy to over one million people in Zanzibar by the end of 2023. It is the first step in World Mobile’s mission to help bring nearly four billion people online. before 2030 in line with the UN and World Bank SDGs.
United Nations data* shows that almost half of the world’s population, 3.7 billion people, the majority of whom are women, and most of them in developing countries, are still offline.
Beyond Zanzibar, the company is in talks with government officials in Tanzania and Kenya, as well as other territories underserved by traditional mobile operators. It plans to have 20 mesh sites – local Wi-Fi nodes – deployed by January 2022 and 120 sites in the first six months of 2022, including the first aerostat balloon launch.
The deployment will cover approximately 75% of Unguja Island and provide access to the wider digital economy, including communications, e-commerce, finance, health and education for the islands’ 896,000 inhabitants.
Micky Watkins, CEO of World Mobile said: “We want to help create a world where everyone can access affordable connectivity, a world where economic freedom is a truth and a world where people can seize the opportunities created by the internet. Zanzibar will become the world’s first smart region powered by World Mobile, connecting businesses, schools and society as a whole.
“Mobile Internet services are becoming very popular in Zanzibar, as everywhere else in the world. These services allow the masses to access information and communication online through their mobile phones, helping to bridge the digital divide between rural and urban areas.Most importantly, however, these services are singularly responsible for promoting financial inclusion by enabling the banked and underbanked people of Zanzibar to fully participate in the emerging digital economy. have become indispensable, the high cost of communication is a major barrier to entry for the poor majority The launch of affordable internet service in Zanzibar will be a game-changer allowing the vast majority of Zanzibar to fully participate in the revolution digital.” added Said Seif Said, Managing Director of Zanzibar e-Government Agency
World Mobile has already entered into agreements with the government of Zanzibar to provide connectivity for 300 schools, and a four-step plan is in place to unlock Zanzibar’s blue economy, across all maritime industries.
This approach is more sustainable, in environmental, social and governance terms. Environmental impacts are mitigated using solar-powered nodes, second-life batteries, and energy-efficient technology. World Mobile creates positive societal impact through the application of its circular economy model – a “sharing economy” where residents share ownership and benefits of the network. Governance is maintained by secure underlying blockchain technology, which means user data privacy is guaranteed and not commercially enforced as is the case with other mobile operators.