Software giant Microsoft and South Africa's cellular group Mobile Telephone Networks (MTN) announced on Tuesday a collaboration to provide affordable internet connection services in South Africa.
Speaking at the Microsoft Government Leaders Forum in Cape Town, Chairman Bill Gates said that the U.S. company and MTN, would work together to provide affordable broadband connectivity as well as PC access to consumers.
The Cape Town forum, convened by Microsoft, discussed how Africa can use technology to improve its competitiveness and spark faster growth.
The two companies will work towards providing affordable options for South African consumers who purchase Internet connectivity and a personal computer running Microsoft's Windows starter edition software.
The program will provide consumers with various options. A personal computer and Internet access can be purchased either on a fixed-term contract for a low monthly fee, or through purchasing the PC and getting a month-to-month Internet contract.
Gates said even in the United States, the cost of high-speed broadband internet connection for the year, was higher than that of a personal computer.
â€œMobile connectivity has become a key driver of telecommunications growth across the continent and has paved the way for increased mobile access through convergence and mobile data and wireless applications,â€ Gates said according to an MTN transcript.
He added that high connectivity costs remained a huge problem for Africa and other countries in the developing world but that he saw wireless broadband technology as the key to fixing the problem.
â€œItâ€™s great to see leaders in government, education and technology come together to identify creative ways that African nations can use technology to address the challenges they face and open the door to new opportunities,â€ he said.
This collaboration with Microsoft to provide internet and PC access will encourage enterprise development among disadvantaged communities,â€ said the head of Strategy and Product Innovation for MTN, Ashraff Paruk.