The social media giant, Facebook and telecom major, Bharti Airtel has mutually announced on Tuesday that both of the firms has joined hands for the free Internet service platform across 17 African countries. The companies further revealed that the plans will be executed by March 2016.
“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,” Internet.org Vice President Chris Daniels said in a statement.
Facebook’s Free Basics service offers free access to a set of basic websites and services. The main motive of the company to launch the service is to introduce the Internet in rural areas. The websites affiliated to the Free Basics provide free health, education and finance-related information.
Facebook had already been working with Airtel Africa since last year in intensifying openness to the Internet in consumers budget by launching Free Basics in Zambia, Malawi, Kenya, Rwanda and Seychelles. The service will be launched in phases as initially the firms will introduce it in Nigeria, DRC, Gabon and Niger followed by other Airtel African markets.
Like in India, Free Basics is only available for Reliance consumers, similarly, in Africa, Airtel mobile subscribers will be able to access all the services that form part of Free Basics without paying extra for data charges or rental.
“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,” Airtel Africa MD and CEO Christian de Faria.