Seye Joseph with Agency Report
Bharti Airtel Africa, a leading telecommunications service provider with operations in 17 countries across Africa, today announced that it has launched Free Basics in Nigeria in partnership with Facebook.
Nigerians with an Airtel mobile connection will be able to access all the services that are available through Free Basics without paying extra for data charges or rental.
Free Basics provides basic mobile websites and services for free to people around the world and demonstrating the value the internet can provide.
Free Basics will launch in Nigeria with more than 85 free services dedicated to health, education, jobs, and finance. To date, Facebook estimates that its connectivity efforts, which include Free Basics, have brought more than 25 million people online who wouldn’t be otherwise.
Airtel Africa will also be offering Facebook Flex in Nigeria, which allows people to access a version of Facebook without data charges. This initiative is part of Facebook’s commitment to bringing people online and reducing affordability barriers.
Christian de Faria, MD and CEO of Airtel Africa said, “We’re pleased to take this big step forward in our partnership with Facebook, bringing more people online in Africa’s most populous country and helping to further narrow the digital divide. This builds on our vision of using our widespread 3G network to help improve lives and communities by empowering them with access to digital content and services that are tailored to their needs.”
Segun Ogunsanya, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Airtel Nigeria commented: “Today marks a significant milestone in our nation’s drive towards deepening digital connectivity and enhancing mobile broadband access for millions of Nigerians in line with the key objective of Nigeria’s National Broadband Plan (NBBP). It is our belief that this partnership, the first of its kind in Nigeria, will create a plethora of opportunities for millions of Nigerians, empowering them to connect to their dreams, realize their full potentials, and succeed in their professional and personal endeavours.”
Airtel Africa has worked 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 in Nigeria, millions more people will have the ability to access basic services.
Chris Daniels, Vice President of Internet.org at Facebook, said: “Bharti Airtel Africa has been an important partner in bringing connectivity and access to people across Africa. Our partnership has played a key role in helping bring digital content and services to people and communities in growing countries.”
Ime Archibong, Director of Global Product Partnerships at Facebook, added: “We’ve spent time with the developer community here in Nigeria to understand how we can help people here build and create for their communities, and by bringing Free Basics to Nigeria we hope to provide another platform for developers to bring relevant services to people free of charge. At launch, we have more than 85 services included in Free Basics and hope to spur more development to bring relevant, basic services to Nigerians.”
Archibong continued: “We believe that local entrepreneurs and developers will be the ones to meet the needs of their immediate community, and we are working with developers to know how we can support them in doing so. Together, Facebook and the developer, entrepreneur and non-profit communities in Africa can still do so much more, and we will continue to invest in technology and partnerships to help people realize the benefits of connectivity.”