Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has announced a plan to launch free mobile data for its users in 17 African countries. The company will achieve the mission through a deal with Bharti Airtel.
The new services will initially be launched in Nigeria, DRC Congo, Niger and Gabon. The project was announced during an annual mobile industry event held in Cape Town South Africa.
Facebook plans to introduce the free services as part of its internet.org initiative. It will provide websites and other services as part of introducing the internet to people and showing them how it can transform their lives.
Facebook hopes that introducing the service will spread valuable information especially about health finance and education to people dwelling in emerging markets. The VP of internet.org, Chris Daniels stated that more than 1 billion people have access to the service in Asia, Latin America and Africa. He also stated that the aim of the project is to help Africans to gain access to vital information and services that will impact positive changes in their lives and also lead to the spread of the internet.
According to the agreement reached with Bharti Airtel, clients on the network will have access to the Free Basics without having to pay anything. The free access will allow access to people whose access to the internet has previously been limited due to low finances and the high cost of data in the region.
Bharti Airtel will also provide free access to the Free Basics to other African countries including Rwanda, Malawi, Seychelles, Kenya, Ghana and Zambia. Internet.org has already been active in these countries.
CEO and Managing Director of Airtel Africa, Christian de Faria stated that the company is aware of the power that the internet possesses in terms of changing lives. He also added that the partnership with Facebook is a great opportunity for both to work towards eradicating the digital barrier that separates some of these regions from the rest of the world. Bharti Airtel currently has operations in 17 countries in Africa.
According to survey reports, Facebook has 120 million users in the continent and 80% of African users access the internet through their mobile devices.