The U.S. Trade and Development Agency awarded a grant to Global Broadband Solution SARL (GBS), an internet service provider based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), for a feasibility study to expand rural internet connectivity for half a million people in the DRC’s eastern region. GBS selected California-based startup Ukama, Inc. (Ukama) to carry out the study, which includes a pilot project to demonstrate the delivery of Ukama’s connectivity technology.
“USTDA is committed to expanding rural internet access across Africa, working in partnership with the continent’s private and public sectors,” said Enoh T. Ebong, USTDA’s Director. “Under our Access Africa initiative, we are supporting connectivity for millions of Africans by tapping into the expertise of U.S. industry, whose innovative solutions are trusted and second to none.”
USTDA’s pilot project and feasibility study will advance GBS’s goal of connecting individuals and businesses to affordable high-speed internet networks in the DRC’s North Kivu and South Kivu Provinces. The study will assess the economic and technical viability of deploying an end-to-end LTE connectivity solution for data services delivered over satellite and fixed wireless technology using Ukama’s decentralized cellular internet infrastructure.
“This study will help prove the decentralized cellular internet network technology and business model to get cellular internet connectivity to the people of the DRC,” said Zubeir Mohamed, GBS’s Chief Technology Officer. “We are excited to work with USTDA on this opportunity to test and deploy technology to help further our vision of providing reliable cost-effective data access for individuals and businesses alike”
Kashif Ali, founder and CEO of Ukama, said: “The USTDA-funded study will bring together local stakeholders, as well as leading access and backhaul technology and financial institutions. We aim to provide affordable access to the internet using decentralized cellular internet networks in the Eastern DRC, which can be replicated to other parts of the DRC and rural Africa.”
This activity supports the goals of USTDA’s Access Africa initiative to advance the deployment of critical ICT infrastructure in communities across the continent. It also advances the objectives of the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, as well as the U.S. government’s Prosper Africa initiative designed to increase two-way trade and investment between the United States and Africa. Since 1992, USTDA has funded more than 80 activities in sub-Saharan Africa’s ICT sector.