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Brazil’s space agency plans to use balloons to hover internet-transmitting base stations over rural parts of the country. Google is running a similar project called Loon but critics suggest that it is the high cost of IT equipment, not connectivity, which is hindering innovation in Africa.

Oliver Bell, Microsoft’s chief technology officer overseeing humanitarian and development activities, tells me the private sector has a crucial role to play in establishing telecoms infrastructure in the developing world.

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