World Mobile Group brings Zanzibaris online via blockchain-based mobile network – TechCrunch
As the world quickly turns into a global village thanks to the rapid penetration of internet networks, it is easy for some people to be left behind due to their remote location. In most parts of Zanzibar, a self-governing island in East Africa, for example, terrestrial cable and satellite services are deficient, leaving a large percentage of the population uncovered. But, if the plans of the Global mobile group – a global telecommunications operator – materialize, many Zanzibaris will connect to the Internet for the first time in the coming months.
World Mobile builds an infrastructure for last mile connectivity using spectra such as optical free space communication and other radio transmitters, which do not require a license, resulting in less expensive Internet access.
Specters connect to multiple air nodes to create a mesh network, providing internet coverage to remote villages.
“There are a lot of fiber optics that have been laid across the continent, and we take the last mile of fiber and use alternative spectra like free space optics or other radio spectra that don’t require a license.” , said the CEO of the World Mobile group. and founder Micky Watkins told TechCrunch.
Watkins said that because they didn’t need licenses for these alternative spectra, they got a huge tax saving, which translated into a cheaper Internet for users.
“We use these alternative spectra to build the backhaul (connection between an access node and the core network) and then create a device (node) that people can use to recover from that backhaul,” said Watkins.
For sustainability, the Air Nodes will be privately owned, with a one-time fee of around $ 7,000 which they will recoup over time by earning income or rewards in the form of World Mobile Token (WMT), the operator’s cryptocurrency, as people connect to the Internet through their access points. The network operator works with micro-lenders to finance entrepreneurs to buy the nodes.
Each overhead node provides reliable Wi-Fi to 500-700 people and other ancillary utilities such as street lighting through built-in solar powered floodlights.
Watkins said the concept of the sharing economy reduces operational expenses incurred in maintenance, security and rental costs, while fueling a self-sustaining business model.
“And now residents have a choice; do I own livestock or is it better for me to own part of a telecom infrastructure and operate a telecom platform? This option has never been there before; so just like Uber or Airbnb, we operate on the sharing economy model. “
World Mobile currently serves around 3,000 customers at the five pilot sites, but plans to expand to 30 sites by January as it ramps up connectivity efforts.
Watkins said current users spend around $ 4 per month using the Internet. The operator has a network of suppliers where users embark their fiat currency or buy WMT, the company’s digital currency, to connect to the Internet.
World Mobile has a more ambitious plan to cover Zanzibar in five years, making the Internet accessible to the entire population of 1.5 million people, increasing competition for traditional network companies such as Zanlink and Internet companies by satellite such as teleport and operator GlobalTT.
“We have a few agreements underway that will allow us to have connectivity across the whole of Zanzibar, including the entire coastline and between the mainland (Tanzania) and the borders of Zanzibar, thus allowing us to implement the “IoT, as well as connectivity for people,” Watkins said.
The company is expected to roll out the network in Kenya and Tanzania, where it already has a presence, in the coming months.
“It’s a movement, and it may be the world’s largest people-run mobile network. No one has ever done this before. So that’s what we’re actually looking for, ”Watkins said.
How Zanzibar is harnessing connectivity to build a digital economy
As more citizens go online, the Zanzibar government has started implementing its digital economy framework, a plan it had been abandoned for over a decade.
Among the many ideas he had presented and is now on the right track is harnessing connectivity to develop his blue economy and develop solutions that protect Zanzibar’s blue economy from illegal fishing trawlers.
Zanzibar’s ocean activities employ 33% of its workforce and contribute to more than 29% of the island’s GDP, but could make more use of its oceanic wealth with better technologies.
It will also help build an infrastructure that will help it automate all of its administrative tasks and processes. It means building an e-government system that would allow government interaction with its citizens, businesses, employees, and between its agencies. The investment will make government more accessible to its citizens, who no longer need to physically visit offices for services or information.
“The new administration is really focused on digital transformation. We have to get there. But first, we will make sure that everyone can access the Internet at an affordable price, ”said Said Seif Said, director general of the E-Government Agency of Zanzibar (eGaz).
The agency was established to promote policies, standards and other practices aimed at improving the adoption of ICTs in public institutions.
“We could have a different solution, such as an integrated blue economy management system, which means we include automatic satellite identification systems, vessel management systems and drones. So this is all to solve the problem of illegal unreported and unregistered fishing. And all of these technologies need connectivity to be in place.
The urgency to digitize has been fueled in part by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has accelerated Zanzibar’s plan for a digital government and economy. Zanzibar is now making up for lost time by stepping up the pace towards this transition.
“The COVID pandemic has really changed the way we do everything and we need to allow our citizens to do what they need to do from home. We need to ensure outright accessibility of government services across the country in an affordable, effective and efficient manner through appropriate use of ICTs, and this is where this collaboration with the World Mobile Group and Input Output Global comes in. (IOG), ”he said.
As part of the partnership, IOG, a blockchain and digital identity company behind the Cardano blockchain, will automate Zanzibar’s systems by implementing blockchain technology in ledger systems to provide “traceable digital identifications”. It will also integrate back-end government systems to enable the automation of business processes and facilitate the flow of communication within government institutions.
World Mobile subscribers will have access Atala PRISM, IOG’s digital identity solution for services such as education, banking and healthcare.
Meanwhile, Zanzibar is launching a blockchain academy which, starting early next year, will host conferences as the tourist destination positions itself as a blockchain hub of the future.