With a focus on digitally connecting population in developing African countries, the solar powered balloon is low on environmental impacts
As per data from the United Nations (UN), almost half the world’s population of 3.7 billion people, the majority of them women, and most in developing countries are still offline.
In this age of rapid advances made by digital technology, our lives are being constantly shaped by the benefits it offers.
However, the population in countries with a weak economy, especially in Africa and facing several sociological challenges such as poverty is completely cut off from such benefits.
To bring about a change in this situation, World Mobile, a blockchain technology-based provider of telecommunication services has launched a one-of-a-kind hybrid mobile network in Zanzibar.
Instead of being on land, the mobile network floats in the air while being supported by low altitude platform balloons.
The initiative will help to provide digital connection to people in a much more cost-effective way compared to setting a conventional telecom infrastructure.
The remotely controlled aerostat balloons are powered by solar panels, inflated by helium and tethered to the ground. Once airborne, they act as floating cellular base stations transmitting radio signals to ground stations and personal devices.
The floating mobile tower will cover approximately 75% of Unguja Islands’ 896K people to provide digital access for communications, e-commerce, finance, healthcare and education.
The approach is advantageous for the environment in terms of sustainability. Due to the use of solar-powered nodes and energy-efficient technology, environmental impacts are very less.
And thanks to blockchain technology, user data privacy is guaranteed.
This inventiveness later translates to the creation of positive social impact through the application of a circular economy model or “sharing economy” where locals share in the ownership and rewards of the network.
“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 are able to jump on the opportunities that the internet creates (for) connecting businesses, schools and society as a whole,” said Micky Watkins, CEO of World Mobile.
“Mobile internet services are becoming quite popular in Zanzibar, like everywhere else around the globe. These services bring online access to information and communication to the masses through their mobile phones, helping bridge the existing rural and urban digital gap. More crucially, however, these services are singularly responsible for promoting financial inclusion by allowing the banked and underbanked in Zanzibar to participate fully in the emerging digital economy,” stated Said Seif Said, Director General of Zanzibar’s E-Government Agency.
“While these services have become indispensable, the high price of communication is a major entry barrier for the poor majority. World Mobile’s service launch of affordable internet service in Zanzibar will be a game-changer, allowing the vast majority of Zanzibaris to fully participate in the digital revolution,” he added.
The ambitious project will deliver coverage and access to the digital economy for over 1m million people in Zanzibar by end of 2023 – a big step towards fulfiling the UN’s and World Bank’s Sustainable Development Goals for bringing nearly four billion people online before 2030.
World Mobile is in discussions with government officials in Tanzania and Kenya, as well as other territories underserviced by traditional mobile operators.
As of now, the company plans to have 20 mesh sites – local Wi-Fi nodes – rolled out by January 2022 and 120 sites during the first six months of 2022 including the first aerostat balloon.