Mark Zuckerberg brings free Internet access to Kenya
Facebook’s plan to connect the two-thirds of the world’s population without internet access is getting momentum after the announcement that Kenyans will now be able to access news, information and various communication services free of charge via the Internet.org’s app.
Kenya becomes the third country to get free internet access after Zuckerberg launched the plan in Zambia at the end of July and in Tanzania two weeks ago. Facebook hosted an event in South Africa, dubbed AfriCom, which saw the formal announcement by Chris Daniels (Facebook’s Vice-President of Internet.org) of the free internet plan. The Internet.org’s app is being launched in Kenya as a partnership with Airtel Kenya, the same company that is in charge in Zambia.
Internet.org is a non-profit organization launched by Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg as a way to bring the internet to an estimated two-thirds of the world’s population who have no ability to access the internet mostly because it’s beyond their reach financially. Internet.org’s plan is to work with telecom companies to enable users to gain access to certain essential services from their phone without cost.
Airtel customers in Kenya will therefore be able to access the following services for free via the Internet.org app:
- BBC News
- BBC Swahili
- BabyCenter & MAMA
- Daily Nation
- Facts for Life
- Girl Effect
- Jamii Forums
- Facebook Messenger
- UNICEF Ebola Information
Initially, Google search was available for free during the first launch in Zambia. However, in the latest launches in Kenya and Tanzania, the service has been scraped off in a tactical move by Facebook. Google search is not a free service entirely which could be a reason for that change.
Facebook’s messenger app now has almost 500 million users which is pretty close to WhatsApp that was also purchased by the social media giant. Essentially, Facebook owns the two top used messaging apps. With the Facebook network having 1.2 billion users per month,the company has the numbers and the muscle to actually provide internet to several people worldwide. Mark Zuckerberg’s belief is that “internet access is a basic right” for all humans today.
Providing free internet access also boosts Facebook worldwide since it’s one of the services that remains constant alongside Wikipedia during every country-specific launch.
The service will start in Kenya later this week.