Microsoft Provides Grants for Affordable Internet Access


Emma Okonji

Microsoft Corporation on Tuesday this week, announced that it has awarded Affordable Access Initiative grants to 12 entrepreneurial businesses, including Ekovolt in Nigeria to help scale their solutions and business models to increase affordable internet access in communities around the world.

Each company will receive seedgrants, and resources including BizSpark tools such as free software, services and technology support to help extend the reach of their hardware, applications, connectivity and power solutions.

In Nigeria, the grant received by Ekovolt will enable simplify everyday life and connect people, places, and things with technology. With Affordable Access Initiative grant support, the wireless broadband and cloud services provider will expand its solutions to small and medium-sized enterprises in Nigeria.

Managing Director, Ekovolt, Mr. Emeka Ebo, said: “Our partnership helps apply new technologies in delivering internet services to underserved markets and rural communities in Nigeria. As we combine Microsoft’s cloud solutions with Volt Internet services, we can offer bundled packages of customized Internet and Enterprise solutions for small to medium-sized businesses typically only found at large corporations.”

The fresh grant from Microsoft, is progress on the commitments that it made earlier this year to invest $1 billion to bring the power of cloud technology to serve the public good, including through expanding the availability of affordable broadband services, new commercial partnersihps and expanded philanthropic programmes, Ebo said.

The Executive Vice President, Business Development at Microsoft, Peggy Johnson, said: “With more than half of the world’s population lacking access to the internet, connectivity is a global challenge that demands creative problem solving. By using technology that is available now and partnering with local entrepreneurs who understand the needs of their communities, our hope is to create sustainable solutions that will not only have impact today but also in the years to come.”
Microsoft’s Affordable Access Initiative aims to democratise access to the internet through grants, commercial partnerships, connecting new leaders and community engagement.

Grant recipients are already addressing a range of challenges that take advantage of last-mile access technologies such as TV white spaces, and their business models also demonstrate the ability to scale up and be market-sustained. Grant recipients are based across five continents in 11 countries, which include Argentina, Botswana, India, Indonesia, Malawi, Nigeria, Philippines, Rwanda, Uganda, the United Kingdom and the United States. In addition to financial support, grant recipients will have access to a global network connecting social enterprises with peers and mentors to develop and share best practices; and participation in annual immersive summits and monthly virtual touchpoints, alongside ongoing support from Microsoft’s Research and Development team.

To further empower people and organisation in communities benefitting from the Affordable Access Initiative, Microsoft Philanthropies will make digital literacy, online safety and computer science education programmes from available countries. through its global YouthSpark initiative, as well as cloud product donations and training for nonprofits.