Meta’s (formerly Facebook) Head of Network Investments Emerging Markets Aaron Russell has worked for the tech giant for nearly seven years.

In his current role, he manages and helps develop strategic partnerships to address and create solutions for the connectivity barriers in Sub-Saharan Africa. Russell is on a mission to better connect the world to faster and reliable internet. 

“Connecting the world is really one of the fundamental challenges of our generation. And that’s an idea that we really embrace,” Aaron Russell told AfroTech. “We work with partners to develop innovative technologies around the world that help some of the biggest connectivity challenges and solving them, and together we’re bringing more people online to a faster internet.”

Russell and Meta think Internet connectivity issues can be solved by tapping into subsea cables. But what are those? Subsea cables are fiber optic cables that are laid in the ocean and connect two or more landing points. Ships drop these cables to the ocean floor, and as they approach land, they are buried in trenches (Learn more about subsea cables here).

The Borgen Project reports that around 90 percent of children in Sub-Saharan Africa don’t have access to computers, and roughly 80 percent don’t even have a basic Internet connection. To combat these statistics, Facebook formed a consortium of investors and other partners to create the most extensive subsea cable system in the world.

“We designed the consortium with open access principles that support a healthy internet ecosystem for development and for Facebook to actually better serve our users in Africa with a higher quality of experience,” Russell said.

He will expand on this topic at the AfroTech Conference during his solo session, “Connecting Africa: How Meta is Improving Internet Connectivity in Africa” on the Engineering and Design stage. If you haven’t yet, there’s still time to grab your ticket for our annual conference, where you can hear more about Facebook’s plan to expand internet access in Africa.