Thursday, 30 October 2014

Internet access boost

Internet.org Logo.jpg
"Internet.org Logo" by www.internet.org.
Licensed
via Wikipedia.
The number of people in Africa who now have access to the internet just got a big boost. Yesterday, Facebook announced the launch of the Internet.org app in Tanzania, partnering with one of the country's popular mobile carriers Tigo, to bring free access to essential websites with absolutely zero data charges.

The Internet.org app was first launched back in July this year in Zambia in partnership with Airtel. The app features popular websites like Wikipedia and (surprise!) Facebook as well as news sites (BBC in english and swahili), resources for basic health, family planning, education (mostly for junior and high school level which is quite useful), important information for expectant mothers and even weather forecast and a platform for job seekers. Users need only a sim card from the partner carrier to use the Internet.org app on their phones.

Overall, one cannot complain; the app's packed with a great deal of cool resources (who doesn't need Wikipedia in this day and age) and it also exposes lots of local NGO projects to more people than ever before. Go check it out now. It's absolutely fab!

No doubt the app has space to grow and Facebook has hinted at just that in a recent news bulletin. Although some question whether Facebook's plan to bring the internet to more people is based on purely altruistic motives or otherwise, I would say that that is almost certainly a naive question. Facebook is a web business. It's profits margins grow when more people sign up for its services. If it can benefit from having more people using its services for free without significantly damaging their already meager finances then why not? Mark gets more eyes for ads and the poor Tanzanian gets free Wikipedia. It's a perfect mutual relationship.