Kathy Gibson reports from Gitex Africa Morocco – Amazon is on track to launch its Kuiper satellite connectivity service within the next year, with the aim of give all Africans access to affordable connectivity.

Naveen Kachroo, chief product and commercial officer at Amazon Project Kuiper, explains that the company realised some time ago that connectivity continues to be an issue in both developing and developed regions.

“We realised it would be a good investment to make because there are such broad customer benefits for consumers, organisations and the public sector.”

So far, Amazon has launched two prototype satellites and completed testing. The team is now working on the production system, and will start deploying the network early next year.

The first rollout will be in the US and Europe, with Africa following towards the end of 2025 and early 2026. Kachroo says coverage will begin in the north and south, and work its way inwards until the whole continent is covered.

Because Amazon is employing low-orbit satellites, large numbers of satellites flying in formation about 600km above the earth’s surface  cover specific latitudes.

On the ground, customers’ antennae will connect wirelessly to the satellite. Amazon will also have its own ground infrastructure to provide terrestrial networks.

Importantly, the entire end-to-end network will be owned and managed my Amazon, Kachroo says.

He adds that the service will differ from similar offerings by meeting the needs of many different customers. “It needs to be flexible, scalable and affordable otherwise it won’t be accessible.”

At the same time, Amazon plans to ensure that the network offers good performance and is suitable for a broad set of use cases.

In-country partnerships will help the company to provide an end-to-end customer experience that includes support, installation and after-sales service. “So we are open to local and regional partnerships with established providers and brands that have a capacity for great customer experience,” Kachroo says. “We want to build partnerships with the right stakeholders, regionalised for every market.”

The organisation is also cognisant that every country in Africa has specific regulatory requirements, and is already engaging with regulators to ensure it will be compliant at launch.