Facebook has tied up with Airtel Africa to offer free internet access to Kenyan subscribers through its Internet.org service, it announced at the AfricaCom conference.
Internet.org is a partnership between social networking service company Facebook and six mobile phone companies that aims to bring Internet access to everybody by increasing affordability, efficiency, and facilitating the development of new business models around the provision of Internet access.
This is the third African country to come under Internet.org’s umbrella after similar moves in Zambia and Tanzania were made through partnerships with operators like Airtel and Tigo.
“Today, at AfricaCom conference in Cape Town, South Africa, Facebook’s Vice President of Internet.org, Chris Daniels spoke about Internet.org and the importance of making internet access available to the two-thirds of the world not yet connected. As part of this effort, Chris announced the availability of Facebook’s Internet.org app for Airtel subscribers in Kenya later this week.”
For Facebook, which has over 100 million users in Africa, this is just the beginning– for a company whose ambition is to make the Internet available and connect every person on earth.Keep in mind, two-thirds of the globe does not have internet access yet.
It is not clear why Facebook chose Airtel over Safaricom,that has over 80+ market share in Kenya.
Last month, Mark Zuckerberg visited India and spoke about his plans to increase internet penetration in India. He visited a small village, Chandauli, and later launched a 250,000 USD Innovation Challenge in India.
The app, also currently available to Airtel subscribers in Zambia and Tigo subscribers in Tanzania, provides people with free access to basic internet services so they can browse useful health, education, finance, employment, communication and local information services without data charges.
Mobile penetration in Kenya rose above 77% in 2013, and will soon reach saturation point. Currently there are 19.6 million Internet users in Kenya – in a population of 41.8 million, which means 49.7 per cent penetration rate.
Android is the choice of the developing world’s mobile operating system. That makes it ideal for Internet.org’s Android-only app to deliver free access to ‘basic’ internet services covering education, employment, financeand health to those at the bottom of the pyramid (BOP).
Through the app in Kenya, Airtel customers will have free access to BBC Swahili, Facebook with messenger, OLX, Wikipedia, Totohealth and Daily nation.
Kenyan customers of Airtel Kenya can download the Android-only Internet.org app from the Play Store or from their mobile browser.