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‘Africans to gain’ from web plan

Google is helping develop a system to bring high-speed internet connections to three billion people developing countries in Africa and elsewhere.

The 03b Networks system aims to use satellites to provide broadband services at the same speeds as those on offer in rich countries.

The service, which is due to begin in 2010, is also backed by cable operator Liberty Global and the bank HSBC.

It aims to tap into booming mobile phone usage in the developing world.

It will target markets in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.

The founders of 03b Networks recently helped pioneer the first commercial 3G mobile and fibre-to-the-home networks in Rwanda, the company said in a statement.

Production of an initial 16 satellites has begun, and the project allows for additional satellites to increase capacity.

The company said the system will enable the spread of locally generated content and e-learning, encouraging social and economic growth in the developing world.

There are various other projects under way to bring faster and cheaper internet access to the African continent.

Kenya has commissioned a fibre-optic cable from Fujaira in The United Arab Emirates along the sea floor of the Gulf of Oman, down the East African coast to the port town of Mombasa.

Another undersea telecommunications cable, known as East African Submarine Cable System (Eassy), intends to connect 21 countries to each other and the rest of the world with high-quality internet.