image credit: techcrunch.com
Earlier today we reported on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s mini tour of Africa.
The CEO is moving around Sub-Saharan Africa and is currently in Kenya having visited Nigeria already.
Sadly, the tour has been ruined by the news of Facebook’s Internet.org satellite exploding today.
The $200 million SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the satellite exploded on launch for reasons yet unknown.
The rocket was meant to carry the satellite into orbit by Saturday, giving the Facebook CEO the pleasure of announcing the project’s successful launch while still in Africa.
The Facebook project, Internet.org, is meant to provide free internet access to developing countries via satellite, including Sub-Saharan Africa (yes Zimbabwe too).
On the matter, the Facebook CEO had this to say:
“As I’m here in Africa, I’m deeply disappointed to hear that SpaceX’s launch failure destroyed our satellite that would have provided connectivity to so many entrepreneurs and everyone else across the continent.
Fortunately, we have developed other technologies like Aquila that will connect people as well. We remain committed to our mission of connecting everyone, and we will keep working until everyone has the opportunities this satellite would have provided”.
The Internet.org project is an initiative to provide free access to basic internet services like news, job postings, health and education information, and communication tools like Facebook.
Facebook had already reached partnership agreements with Mobile Network Operators across 48 developing countries to allow them access to its infrastructure and provide their subscribers with access to free basic services.
It is Zuckerberg’s vision to provide free internet access to basic services across the world and this was his first major step towards achieving it.
The list of countries set to benefit from this service includes DRC, Liberia, Malawi and Rwanda to name but a few.
I had a slight expectation to see Zimbabwe feature, but sadly our mobile network operators seem to have no interest in providing access to free internet.
Luckily, the internet.org project is fully insured and as noted by the CEO there are alternatives they had been exploring, so the project will continue on, maybe without the expected initial reach but a start none the less.