The rich invest in places where others fear to tread. That fear often comes from ignorance. The rich look beyond the surface for the real story, the real potential.
For instance, we think Africa is a good place to be investing some of your money to earn high returns. It looks like Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook agree.
Facebook is involved with a company called Africa Mobile Networks (AMN). AMN builds and sustainably operates mobile network base stations in sub-Saharan Africa. They connect the unconnected rural population, which represents 200-300m people and is forecast to double by 2050.
Many African countries have good mobile network coverage in cities but not in rural areas, because operators are unable to serve populations of fewer than 10,000 people economically due to high mobile tower build, maintenance and operating costs.
AMN solves that problem. It combines low-power transmitters with satellite technology that directs call and data traffic onto an existing network. Even better, it uses solar panels to power the systems, making them completely independent.
AMN has some big name partners. Africa’s largest telecom operators, Orange and MTN, have stated that AMN is their rural solution, providing live contracts in the largest target markets. And Facebook has backed the company through a US$12m cash grant, bespoke proprietary software and a hardware development partnership. In other words, Zuck himself is vested in the project.
On top of all that, AMN has just announced that 50 mobile network base stations are now in commercial service, spread across four sub-Saharan Africa countries – Cameroon (Orange), the DRC (Orange), Guinea (Orange), and Zambia (MTN).
AMN’s teams are connecting 10+ base stations per week and are on track to deliver 120 base stations by the end of June. The operational base stations are delivering strong performance results, with average revenue per site and per user exceeding expectations.
Contracts with Orange and MTN mean AMN is working with the top two mobile operators in Africa, and the current contract pipeline enables AMN to reach over 8,000 sites in 18 countries with these two operators alone.
And Orange has just started testing proprietary low-cost base station receiver technology developed by AMN and Facebook.