Madagascar is the latest African country to join the trend towards offering free internet access to its people. The government-supported rollout of Wi-Fi terminals across Madagascar has now begun.
According to Agence Ecofin, by the end of the year Malagasy people will have free access to wireless internet in the busiest places in the country. Among the 22 regions of the country, the first to get access to the new hotspots was Vatovavy-Fitovinany, in the province of Fianarantsoa in south central Madagascar.
The Madagascan minister of posts, telecommunications and digital development Andriamanohisoa Ramaherijaona made the announcement of plans to deploy free Wi-Fi hotspots across the country in June.
Around fifty terminals should be operational across Madagascar by the end of the year. However, many more are promised, with a total of 130 expected by 2023, all providing free internet.
While complimentary Wi-Fi is often available in hotels and restaurants and there are internet cafes in major towns and cities, easy-to-access, cheap internet is not always available in Madagascar.
By improving access to the internet in the country, Madagascar aims to reduce the digital divide and develop the digital economy to increase activity in areas such as e-commerce, online learning and digital health.
This year has seen an acceleration of the trend towards affordable Wi-Fi in Africa. In Uganda, as we reported yesterday, Roke Telkom and Facebook have launched a new internet service programme called Roke Express Wi-Fi. Tanzania and Kenya are among a number of other African countries that have signed up to Facebook’s Express Wi-Fi service network.
In Nigeria, Fiam WiFi, is now rolling out public outdoor hotspots to underserved communities in Lagos. In South Africa meanwhile, Project Isizwe, an award-winning, non-profit organisation, is working with the public and private sector to bring free public W-iFi internet access to low-income communities across South Africa.