Bill Gates' (News - Alert) vision of having a computer in every home was to enable technology to be available to the masses. The company he founded is now taking that concept to the African continent in a pilot project that will provide affordable wireless broadband access to remote areas in Kenya.
The project is part of Microsoft's (News - Alert) 4Afrika initiative. The Washington-based company has teamed up with the Kenyan government and Indigo Telecom Ltd. to set up solar powered stations and uses TV white bands, opening up technology to areas that did not have it before.
White spaces refer to the unused parts of the range of frequencies used by broadcast television. By their nature, these signals work well for traveling long distances and going through buildings to reach a device. It requires fewer base stations than normal radio signals would, and because these stations are solar powered, they can be set up in remote locations with little or no electricity. Microsoft hopes that the success of this program will make other similar programs possible throughout Africa.
Initially, access will be made available in several schools, a library and a clinic in Nanyuki and a government office in Kalema.
Indigo Telecomm will consult with local leaders about optimizing the service to best suit a community's needs. They will also set up computer labs using tablets with Windows 8 applications and Office 365, the online version of Microsoft's Office application suite.
It may be argued that Microsoft's actions in Africa are self-serving. After dominating the part of the world where technology was widespread, they are now going after the rest of the world.
So what I say, because that's what large companies do, they increase their presence wherever they can. Besides, a software giant like Microsoft is one of the few companies in a position to deliver this technology to remote areas like these communities in Kenya. It could open up many educational and business opportunities to the area that were not available before. And how can that be a bad thing?
Edited by Jamie Epstein