Negotiations between Brazil's Government and entrepreneur Elon Musk to make the internet available to people in the Amazon region were announced Wednesday.
Communications Minister Fabio Faria and SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk are negotiating an agreement for the company to provide satellite internet in the Amazon rainforest and help detect illegal deforestation, it was reported.
Faria discussed a possible partnership with the 50-year-old South African billionaire in Austin, Texas, earlier this week for SpaceX to provide its satellite internet service, Starlink, to schools and health centres in remote areas.
The satellites should also help detect the devastation of the largest tropical forest on the planet, the ministry reported.
We are talking about environmental issues and connecting people in rural schools in Brazil. I am very, very excited to start a partnership with Starlink and with SpaceX and Brazil, Faria said in a video posted on Twitter after the meeting.
Musk, also the founder and CEO of the automaker Tesla, said he was willing to provide connectivity basically to the underserved people in Brazil and help ensure the preservation of the Amazon.
A ministry spokesman also told French news service AFP that the meeting was a first approach and that there was still no date for an agreement.
Starlink uses a constellation of more than 1,500 low-orbit satellites to provide internet service accessible from most of the planet, something that could include remote areas like the Amazon, 60 per cent of which is in Brazil.
The service could be a breakthrough for Brazil, where around 40 million people (19% of the population) lack internet access.
Faria said the talks with the US company are aimed at bringing internet access to all rural schools, as well as to indigenous reservations and other remote areas.
The meeting comes at a time when the government of President Jair Bolsonaro seeks to combat international criticism for promoting an abrupt increase in deforestation in the Amazon, an area considered vital to curbing climate change.
Since Bolsonaro came to power in 2019, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has increased from an average of 6,500 km2 per year during the previous decade to around 10,000 km2, according to government data based on satellite images, AFP also reported.