One of the key topics being discussed at AfricaCom being held in Cape Town this year is connecting the next billion people to the internet.

In Africa vast open spaces and the sheer size of the continent mean that running kilometres upon kilometres of cabling isn’t just intensive, it’s expensive.

For that reason stellite communications company Eutelsat has today launched a solution for its partners that can beam internet directly from a satellite to the home.

The new division of Eutelsat has been named Konnect Africa, and its service will be available to consumers and small businesses who are unable to gain access via fixed line services.

“Africa is vast and in order to deliver broadband you need vast connectivity solutions. There is no one solution. Our new generation of satellite is geared towards delivering fast access everywhere,” says Konnect Africa chief executive officer, Laurent Grimaldi.

Konnect Africa CEO Laurent Grimaldi.
Konnect Africa CEO Laurent Grimaldi.

The satellites being used by Konnect Africa use spot beam technology which allows high speed internet with an eventual capacity of 1Tbps to be beamed to specific areas. The satellites have been specifically designed to be used in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“We want to be part of this huge adventure to lessen the digital divide in Africa,” Grimaldi says.

With that in mind connectivity means nothing if the people that so desperately need it cannot afford it.

Grimaldi tells us that by partnering with service providers they hope to provide fibre-like wireless connectivity for R300 – R450. Of course that figure is still out of reach for many people.

But because Konnect Africa doesn’t rely on physical cabling there exists the possibility for smaller towns to club together and create one central access point. While splitting connectivity is not the most ideal situation, it’s better than not having the connectivity at all.

Konnect Africa is looking to launch its service in the second quarter of 2017 in Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, DRC, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and South Africa. By 2019 the service hopes to have expanded to Angola, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mozambique, South Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe.