Facebook to Launch Satellite to Beam Internet to Africa

Facebook Satellite
A mock-up photo of the satellite beaming internet to Africa released by Facebook. Facebook

Facebook is to launch a satellite next year that will provide Internet access to remote parts of Africa, the company's CEO Mark Zuckerberg has revealed in an announcement posted on his own Facebook page on Monday

The social networking site is working with French satellite company Eutelsat to launch the AMOS-6 satellite, made by Israel Aerospace Industries and Israeli company Spacecom, to provide greater Internet coverage across West, East and Southern Africa, Zuckerberg said.

"I'm excited to announce our first project to deliver Internet from space...To connect people living in remote regions, traditional connectivity infrastructure is often difficult and inefficient, so we need to invent new technologies," he wrote in the Facebook post.

"Over the last year Facebook has been exploring ways to use aircraft and satellites to beam Internet access down into communities from the sky," Zuckerberg added. "We're going to work with local partners across these regions to help communities begin accessing Internet services provided through satellite."

The satellite is still under construction and the company plans to launch it in 2016 as part of its Internet.org project, which aims to provide accessible and affordable Internet to as many people as possible in the developing world.

The satellite is likely to be launched into space on board a Falcon 9 rocket built by SpaceX, the space exploration company headed by Elon Musk, Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz reported.

"This is just one of the innovations we're working on to achieve our mission with Internet.org. Connectivity changes lives and communities. We're going to keep working to connect the entire worldeven if that means looking beyond our planet," said Zuckerberg.

Statistics released by the company last month showed that Facebook currently has almost 20 million users in the major African economies of Nigeria and Kenya. The company opened its first office in Africa in June, based in the South African city of Johannesburg, the same month that it announced that the number of its active users in Africa had grown by 20 percent since September 2014, to reach 120 million.