6 African Entrepreneurs awarded Grants in 2nd Microsoft Affordable Access Initiative

6 African Entrepreneurs awarded Grants in 2nd Microsoft Affordable Access Initiative

6 companies from Africa have qualified to receive funding in Microsoft’s second Affordable Access Initiative grant fund project.

affordable access
“My dream is to enable local entrepreneurs have low-cost connectivity solutions. So that those entrepreneurs can solve their own last-mile problems versus waiting for the largess of some other company.” — Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO 
The Microsoft Affordable Access Initiative Grant Fund is a Microsoft initiative that supports innovative businesses to grow and scale. The fund assists companies working to bring internet access and new technologies, services and models to underserved markets. That’s companies with initiatives ranging from last mile access technologies, off-grid renewable energy solutions and alternative payment mechanisms. With innovations in finance, payments, healthcare, education and agriculture.
The social enterprises we support have inspired us with practical, high-impact and scalable approaches to help close the digital divide.
It’s a privilege to see these solutions take shape, and play a role in helping local entrepreneurs spur job creation and economic growth.
We’re inspired by our grantees’ passion. To bring internet, energy access and economic benefits to parts of the world that need it most.
It’s our privilege to support the work of innovators helping to improve their communities. – Paul Garnett, Microsoft Affordable Access Initiatives Director 

Microsoft Corporation renewed its Affordable Access Initiative grant fund for a second year. Here are the beneficiaries from Africa.

Recipients of the 2017 grant fund from Africa come from 5 African countries. This year’s recipients include Kukua Weather Services (Uganda), Solaris Offgrid (Tanzania), Standard Microgrid (Zambia), SunCulture (Kenya), VisionNet and WrightGrid (Democratic Republic of the Congo). Read more about their initiatives by clicking here.

The companies will receive funding and software to help power and develop their businesses. Microsoft BizSpark, Microsoft’s development and test software that includes Azure, Windows, Visual Studio, Office and SQL Server. The grant recipients will also join a growing ecosystem of other grantees and funders to further increase their impact.

Visit, read and learn how you can apply and benefit from this grant fund when the next applications open.

Microsoft and Executives Honoured at Dynamic Spectrum Alliance 2017 Global Summit Awards Ceremony for efforts in innovation in dynamic spectrum access

Microsoft and Executives Honoured at Dynamic Spectrum Alliance 2017 Global Summit Awards Ceremony for efforts in innovation in dynamic spectrum access

At the first ever Awards Ceremony at the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance annual global Summit Microsoft, Microsoft executives and network operator partner have been celebrated.


Microsoft, some of it’s executives and network operator partner were honoured at the first ever Dynamic Spectrum Alliance (DSA) Awards Ceremony.
The event took place during a gala dinner at the DSA’s 2017 Global Summit in Cape Town, South Africa. They were recognised and celebrated for their efforts in furthering innovation, increasing inclusion, and pursuing new opportunities in dynamic spectrum access.

Mawingu Networks a network operator partner of the Microsoft 4Afrika TV white spaces technology initiative received an Award for Increasing Digital Inclusion.

Mawingu Networks is a fixed, wireless, Internet access provider enabling access to affordable Internet in rural areas around Kenya.

The Award for Internet of Things (IoT) Innovation was presented to Ranveer Chandra, Principal Researcher at Microsoft for his work helping small farms increase their production and move from sustenance to production using the cloud and dynamic spectrum access.

“This award is an amazing honour and recognition for Microsoft’s work in enabling data-driven agriculture. It helps showcase how dynamic spectrum access policies, for example around TV White Spaces, are critical for democratizing access to farm data, and consequently enabling new algorithms on this data for improving the lives of farmers” – Ranveer Chandra

Also Paul Garnett, Senior Director for Affordable Access Initiatives at Microsoft, was also honoured with the award for Outstanding Leadership and Contribution for his continued efforts as Chairman of the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance Board since 2013.

“Paul Garnett has led the formation of the DSA from its inception to now, four years later, and continues to be a key leader within the organisation as the Chairman and key resource for everything related to the DSA.” – Kalpak Gude, President of Dynamic Spectrum Alliance

Microsoft 4Afrika TV white spaces makes use of unused or unassigned frequencies in the television broadcast bands to deliver low-cost, high speed wireless broadband.

By providing connectivity for previously underserved or last-mile areas, we aim to create new opportunities in commerce, education, healthcare and delivery of government services using TV white spaces technology to connect millions in Africa.

Image ? credits : Wanja Gitonga & Usaasa_ZA

Microsoft and UNHCR’s Connectivity for Refugees Project brings Hope to Dzaleka Refugee Camp, Malawi

Microsoft and UNHCR’s Connectivity for Refugees Project brings Hope to Dzaleka Refugee Camp, Malawi

Microsoft has partnered with UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR to address the lack of digital networks, connectivity and infrastructure in refugee communities.

connectivity for refugees project

© UNHCR/D. Kachitsa Connectivity for Refugees project in Dzaleka camp, Malawi.

Microsoft is helping address the lack of connectivity in some communities. One of such initiatives is providing internet connectivity to refugees living in Dzaleka Refugee Camp, Malawi. Dzaleka refugee camp is located about 70 km from Lilongwe. It currently hosts about 28,000 refugees and asylum seekers, mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia and Ethiopia

Through network partner, C3 in Malawi, Microsoft under it’s 4Afrika initiative will use TV white spaces to provide internet connectivity for the communities.
TV white spaces is a low cost broadband service which will provide users with 1GB of data for USD $2.40 a month. Users will experience speeds up to 3Mbps. TV white spaces performs even well in hilly areas and also allows the penetration of obstacles such as buildings and forest foliage.

Refugees view access to a mobile phone and internet as being critical to their safety and security and essential for keeping in touch with loved ones. The places where refugees and displaced communities live frequently lack digital networks and infrastructure, or the connectivity available is too expensive.

Through funding by Microsoft for a one-year period, refugees and interested host communities will receive free access to internet through the connectivity centers.

1,000 smartphones will be distributed to refugee community leaders who will use the connectivity to benefit their communities. Besides having easier access to their communities and families back home, the connectivity will also be provided to organizations that are working in the camp to improve service delivery.

Other plans are to link the connectivity with education initiatives to improve access to learning opportunities. Another plan is to use the newly established internet connection for livelihood programs to facilitate the search for employment.

Tina Ghelli, Senior Regional External Relations Officer at UNHCR spoke to Remy Gakwaya who’ll benefit from the project. Remy Gakwaya is a 22 year old Burundian refugee who resides in the Dzalaka refugee camp in Malawi. He runs the only computer lab in the camp. Remy voluntarily teaches other refugee youth how to programme. He opened the TakenoLab in 2016 because he wanted to help other youths in the camp learn to programme.

“I love programming,” says Gakwaya. “It is inspiring to see something that I create myself. Here in the refugee camp you are not free to do anything. We aren’t able to work outside of the camp. However, if you do programming, you can do it from anywhere in the world and be paid for that.”

Currently Apps benefitting the overall refugee community are already being developed by Gakwaya and his team. One of the apps will help teachers facilitate the registration of students’ enrollment and registering of their grades, which currently takes up a lot of time. They are also working on an app that will map the different tribal groups and share cultural practices so that the various ethnicities and nationalities in the camp can better understand each other.

“I want to use technology to solve local problems that big software companies do not have the time to take on,” says Gakwaya

Gakwaya is very excited. He is confident that having a faster and cheaper way to connect to the internet will be able to complete more online training to complement the programming skills he learned so far, but he also will be able to strengthen the training he is giving to other young people.

The Dzaleka Refugee Camp TV Whitespaces project, has added the Microsoft 4Afrika AppFactory initiative. That means fellows will be taken in and trained under the Microsoft 4Afrika AppFactory program.

More Info: UNHCR   Tina Ghelli