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Rack Centre and AWS boost Africa's connectivity, linking local centers to global AWS network for digital growth. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

Rack Centre and AWS have partnered to enhance internet connectivity across Africa 

This collaboration, facilitated by a recent webinar titled “AWS Direct Connect: Extend Your On-Premise Networks into AWS,” brought industry experts together to discuss critical connectivity challenges.

During the session, experts emphasised how AWS Direct Connect provides reliable solutions for managing and scaling network traffic. Real-time bandwidth adjustments prevent businesses from exceeding limits, while built-in security features make it a trusted choice for sectors like finance and consulting.

The collaboration also bridges local and global connectivity. By enabling direct connections from local data centers to AWS’s extensive global network, businesses reduce reliance on public internet, ensuring higher speeds and lower latency for efficient data exchange. Local service providers play a crucial role in facilitating these connections, seamlessly integrating with existing infrastructure.

AWS Solutions Architect Ashraf Altalleh highlighted Direct Connect’s technical advantages, emphasising its importance for streamlining operations and expanding digital capabilities. He described it as a dedicated, high-performance connection that minimises latency and maximises reliability.

Obinna Adumike, head of Interconnection and Peering at AF-CIX, discussed the role of AF-CIX as a mediator between AWS and businesses. He highlighted the availability of hosted Direct Connect services through AF-CIX.

“AF-CIX serves as a vital bridge, providing businesses with cost-effective and dependable cloud interconnection solutions. Our goal is to bolster cloud interconnection, peering, and efficient traffic localisation, thereby supporting digital transformation across Africa,” Adumike said.

The webinar concluded with an interactive Q&A session, addressing network resilience, equipment requirements, and AWS gateway availability in Nigeria. Participants were encouraged to connect with AWS representatives for personalised consultations, demonstrating AWS’s commitment to assisting businesses in regulatory navigation and compliance.

This collaboration between Rack Centre and AWS strengthens Africa’s connectivity infrastructure. As a carrier-neutral data center, Rack Centre continues to provide comprehensive connectivity solutions, fueling Africa’s digital ecosystem and growth.

Airtel’s network currently reaches 89% of Kenya’s population. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

Airtel Kenya has announced the introduction of new Unlimited Home Broadband 5G Data Plans, which promise uninterrupted data service and dependable performance on their 5G network 

These plans are designed to cater to the varied requirements of both residential and commercial users, offering a smooth and transformative digital connectivity experience.

Airtel Kenya’s 5G plans?

Since the launch of its 5G network in the middle of the previous year, Airtel began with 372 sites across 16 counties and 180 wards. The company has now nearly doubled its 5G presence, with over 690 sites spanning 39 counties and 285 wards. To celebrate this expansion and the significant adoption of 5G services, Airtel has introduced these unlimited broadband plans specifically for home users who desire the superior 5G experience.

“We are pleased to introduce Airtel Kenya’s Unlimited Plans,” announced Ashish Malhotra, managing director of Airtel Kenya. “They signify our commitment to providing unmatched connectivity solutions and embody our vision for individuals and businesses empowered by seamless connectivity.”

Airtel’s network currently reaches 89% of Kenya’s population, and the company is dedicated to further expanding its infrastructure to cover 94% by the end of 2024, aiming to bring reliable connectivity to more people.

“At Airtel, we are steadfast in our dedication to supporting digital inclusion, and we are encouraged by the market’s response to our offerings. We are confident that our ongoing network expansion will enable us to extend connectivity to more communities nationwide, ensuring that no one is left behind in the digital revolution,” added Malhotra.

The Unlimited plans come in three different speeds: 10 Mbps for Kes 3,500 per month, 20 Mbps for Kes 5,000 per month, and 30 Mbps for Kes 6,500 per month. These plans require an Airtel 5G router, which is available at all Airtel stores for Kes 2,999.

An added feature of the Unlimited 5G Plans is a unique power backup included with the Airtel 5G router, which guarantees continuous service for up to 5 hours during power cuts, a first in the market.

Customers can acquire the 5G routers at any Airtel location nationwide.

Airtel is undertaking a significant network expansion initiative, planning to deploy close to 1000 new sites by year’s end. This expansion, the largest in Airtel Kenya’s history, aims to enhance indoor coverage in urban areas and extend services to rural regions, with a particular focus on improving network reach in the northeastern part of the country.

Sparkle will supply Telecom Namibia with capacity services on the Equiano submarine cable, providing a varied and swift connection between Africa and Europe. (Image source: Sparkle)

Sparkle, Italy’s premier international service provider and a leading global operator, has joined forces with Telecom Namibia, the country’s state-owned telecom operator, to enhance capacity services via the Equiano subsea cable that links Portugal to South Africa 

This collaboration aims to fast-track the digital transformation in Namibia.

Telecom Namibia, under the ownership of the Namibian government, operates the nation’s most extensive digital telecommunications network, catering to over 619,000 customers with a comprehensive range of services including voice, messaging, data, and video.

Enhancing Namibia's digital future

Through a unique arrangement, Sparkle will supply Telecom Namibia with capacity services on the Equiano submarine cable, providing a varied and swift connection between Africa and Europe. This supports Namibia’s digital progress and meets the increasing data demands of the surrounding regions.

The alliance ensures a high-capacity, varied data transmission pathway, which minimizes delays and boosts network robustness, guaranteeing consistent service even during disruptions to the SAT-3 and WACS cables. The enhanced connectivity will enable businesses and governmental bodies to expedite their digital transformation, driving economic advancement and steering Namibia towards becoming a knowledge-driven economy.

Concluding the agreement, Telecom Namibia CEO Dr Stanley Shanapinda said, “We are thrilled to partner with Sparkle to leverage the Equiano cable's advanced capabilities. This strategic alliance underscores our unwavering commitment to delivering exceptional connectivity solutions to our customers and fostering Namibia's digital transformation. The Equiano cable's high-speed, low-latency connection will serve as a catalyst for innovation and economic growth across the nation.”

“We are very pleased for this agreement with Telecom Namibia which confirms our shared vision on the importance of international connectivity to support the digital growth of the country,” said Enrico Bagnasco, CEO of Sparkle. “We are also proud to see how our infrastructure on Equiano is proving crucial for the evolution of the telecommunications sector in the African continent”.

Sparkle is the leading global Tier-1 operator in Africa thanks to its Seabone IP backbone, boasting extensive coverage in the continent, a wide network of Points of Presence (PoPs) across North Africa, Nigeria, South Africa, and Djibouti, as well as fiber capacity on the Equiano subsea cable.

ASN has integrated its advanced SLTE technology, the PSI-SUB platform, into the 2Africa network. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

Airtel Telesonic, Airtel Africa’s wholesale division, operating in 14 African nations, is excited to share the successful launch of the 2Africa submarine cable system 

This significant development boosts connectivity throughout the continent.

2Africa cable activation

The first activation phase links Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa, initiating an era of enhanced, dependable internet service. The 2Africa cable, among the world’s most extensive subsea projects, aims to connect Africa with Europe and Asia. This step is integral to a larger plan to provide quicker, more reliable internet services, aiding Africa’s digital evolution.

This achievement is a result of Airtel Telesonic’s partnership with Alcatel Submarine Networks, a global leader in optical submarine network solutions, known for delivering comprehensive, state-of-the-art technology in both subsea infrastructure and transmission capacity.

The collaboration between ASN and Airtel Telesonic is highlighted in this project, showcasing ASN’s commitment to timely deployments. ASN has integrated its advanced SLTE technology, the PSI-SUB platform, into the 2Africa network.

The ASN PSI-SUB platform is a revolutionary design featuring a gridless, modular, and colorless structure, designed to effortlessly integrate future transponders, ensuring a forward-compatible solution.

PD Sarma, CEO of Airtel Telesonic, expressed his enthusiasm about this achievement, "The activation of the 2Africa submarine cable is a monumental step in our mission to bridge the digital divide in Africa. Airtel is proud to launch the first phase of 2Africa cable system powered by the latest SLTE equipment from our partner. This project not only underscores our commitment to investing in advanced infrastructure but also our dedication to empowering communities with the tools they need to thrive in the digital age. This is a significant milestone underscoring the power of collaboration and innovation to bring the world’s longest Submarine cable system to Africa.”

Speaking on the partnership, ASN’s chief sales & marketing officer, Paul Gabla, said “ASN is very pleased to support Airtel with our cutting-edge SLTE equipment on the 2Africa cable system. This partnership underscores our dedication to continuing the fast delivery of world-class SLTE technological solutions. This important milestone highlights the strength of collaboration and innovation in bringing advanced connectivity solutions to Africa through our partnership with Airtel”.

The 2Africa submarine cable is set to transform the digital landscape in Africa, providing unprecedented opportunities for connectivity and growth. As Airtel Africa continues to expand its network, the company remains committed to delivering innovative solutions that meet the evolving needs of its customers.

ThriveAgric and Visa team up to empower Kenyan farmers through digital payments and financial inclusion. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

ThriveAgric, an Agritech startup from Nigeria, has joined forces with Visa, a leader in digital payments, to facilitate its growth into Kenya 

This collaboration aims to establish additional hubs that will support a network of up to 10,000 local farmers. Founded with the mission to bolster smallholder farmers, ThriveAgric utilises technology to provide financial access, enhance productivity and sales, and ensure food security.

As the winner of the 2022 Visa Everywhere Initiative, ThriveAgric is set to create local hubs in five Kenyan counties: Busia, Homabay, Migori, Nandi, and Narok, to bolster farmer support.

"Our partnership with Visa marks an exciting new chapter in our journey as we double down on our Kenyan expansion which started last year and establish local hubs in Busia and Homabay counties," said ThriveAgric co-founder Ayo Arikawe.

These hubs currently function as educational centers for farmers to receive training and manage the distribution of farming inputs. They will also serve as aggregation points for produce during harvest, allowing farmers to deliver their crops post-harvest and receive payments that reflect the market standards for quality.

With a network of over 450 warehouses, ThriveAgric collaborates with more than 800,000 smallholder farmers across Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya, including a significant number of youth exceeding 5,000 individuals.

The company has set ambitious goals to extend US$500mn in credit to ten million smallholder farmers by 2027 and aims to double these figures by 2050.

"Smallholder farmers are essential to the Kenyan economy and to our vision of expanding the digital payments ecosystem. This partnership will enable us to build a strong network to directly benefit farmers," added Eva Ngigi-Sarwari, country manager for Kenya at Visa.

Financial inclusion for farmers

Visa emphasises the importance of financial literacy and inclusion as core aspects of the programme. Farmers will receive specialised financial education and access to financial services, including bank accounts and Visa cards, to promote financial inclusion further.

Agriculture remains a vital component of Kenya’s economy, contributing approximately 21.3% to the nominal GDP, as per the Central Bank of Kenya. The sector’s significance is underscored by its employment of a substantial portion of the population, particularly in rural areas.

Despite its importance, the agricultural sector faces challenges, notably in accessing finance due to high interest rates. ThriveAgric’s initiatives have been instrumental in providing farmers with capital, access to global markets, and advanced farming techniques, leading to increased yields and income, thereby enhancing their quality of life and contributing to food security.

In a recent development, ThriveAgric announced a partnership with Acorn-Rabobank in April 2024, aimed at empowering over 30,000 smallholder farmers in Nigeria with access to carbon credits. This move is expected to further support farmers in their sustainable agricultural practices.

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