Bharti Airtel has today announced its new partnership with Facebook which will see the two companies launch Free Basics in 17 Africa countries that will provide access to services like health, educations, jobs, communication and local content at no additional cost
The Free Basics whose launch in all markets is expected to be completed by March 2016 is a set of basic websites and services to introduce people to the internet and demonstrate how it adds value to their lives. They include providing free health, education and finance-related information to people in developing countries so that they can make informed choices and decisions to improve their lives.
In the first phase, Free Basics will be launched in Airtel Nigeria, DRC, Gabon and Niger followed by other Airtel Africa markets. Customers with an Airtel mobile connection will be able to access all the services that form part of Free Basics without paying extra for data charges or rental.
“With Africa’s widest 3G network, Airtel has been at the forefront of the data revolution in Africa. We are cognizant of the power of internet in changing lives of communities and this partnership with Facebook will aid in bringing more people online and reduce the digital divide.” Christian de Faria, MD and CEO of Airtel Africa said.
Airtel Africa had already been working with Facebook since 2014 in enhancing accessibility to the internet in an affordable manner through the launch of Free Basics in Zambia, Kenya, Malawi, Ghana, Seychelles and Rwanda. With the launch of Free Basics, these markets will also now have access to more free services and the Free Basics platform.
“We are excited to continue our partnership with Airtel in bringing more people online. More than one billion people have access to Internet.org’s free basic services across Asia, Africa and Latin America today. Our intention is to help the people in Africa access relevant basic services that will help them improve their lives and also lead to more adoption of the internet.” Chris Daniels, VP of Internet.org said.
“I am especially pleased to note that the platform encourages developers to create local content which helps customer’s access services in a language they understand and also keeping them connected online,” Mr. Daniels added.
Airtel customers currently using the app and mobile website will be able to continue using the Android app, though it will now be called Free Basics by Facebook in Google Play. And the mobile web version, which will redirect from the previous URL, can be accessed at FreeBasics.com.