World Mobile launches commercial network in East Africa

The new feature allows Zanzibaris to enjoy mobile data that is 50% cheaper than the national average.

World Mobile launches commercial network in East Africa
The World Mobile team | Credit: World Mobile 

World Mobile announced the launch of its commercial telecommunications network in Zanzibar, Tanzania, on May 26. With this official debut, Zanzibaris can now enjoy mobile data at a 50% lower cost than the national average.

Key quote

Micky Watkins, CEO of World Mobile, expressed excitement about the achievement, stating,

“Today marks a significant milestone for World Mobile as we proudly announce the successful commercial transition of our network in Zanzibar. We are thrilled to welcome our first paying customers and embark on a journey to connect the unconnected, empowering individuals across Africa and beyond.”

Quick facts

  • The launch of World Mobile’s Android application on google play has facilitated the transition from a proof of concept to a commercial model.
  • The application simplifies data bundle management and allows users to create self-sovereign identities while accessing other services.
  • As part of its efforts to create a transparent sharing ecosystem, World Mobile has updated its network explorer WMTScan, to report the highest-earning air nodes after transitioning to a commercial model.
  • The proof-of-concept network was initially deployed in Zanzibar as a subsidized test service available across the World Mobile network of air nodes.
  • Zanzibar was chosen as a pilot location due to the limitations of existing providers and the need for improved connectivity.

Why it matters

  • According to a World Bank report, Sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest usage rate of digital technology globally, with only 22% of the population using mobile internet as of the end of 2021.
  • The World Bank report finds that internet availability positively impacts jobs and welfare and that digital technology can enable economic transformation and boost aggregate growth.
  • The report highlighted that labor force participation and employment increased significantly in areas having three or more years of exposure to internet availability in Nigeria and Tanzania, respectively.
  • The proportion of households living below extreme poverty also dropped in both countries.

Background

  • World Mobile Group is a global telecommunications operator that uses blockchain to deliver internet services to the unconnected in Tanzania, using free-space optical communications and other radio transmitters.
  • As these do not require licensing, it translates to less expensive internet access for Zanzibaris.
  • World Mobile also runs a reward system where users earn money by owning and maintaining an air node, per a Mariblock report.
  • This system encourages community participation, which it says is critical to scaling its solution worldwide.
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