" ITREALMS: Airtel, Facebook offer Nigerians free basic internet access

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Airtel, Facebook offer Nigerians free basic internet access

The Bharti Airtel Africa, a leading telecommunications service provider with operations in 17 countries across Africa, today in Lagos, unveiled free basic Internet access on Facebook, reports ITRealms.
Chief executive officer, Airtel Nigeria, Mr. Segun Ogunsanya, said that with an Airtel mobile connection, Nigerians telecom consumers now could access services available through Free Basics without paying extra for data charges or rental.
He also said that that basic internet service provides mobile websites and services for free to people around across the country demonstrating the value the internet could provide.
With this launch, he said, Nigeria now has over 85 free services dedicated to health, education, jobs, and finance.  Stressing that till date, Facebook estimates that its connectivity efforts, which include basic internet access have brought over 25 million people online and has been launched in over 20 other African countries.
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.
“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,” Ogunsanya said.
In addition, MD and CEO of Airtel Africa, Christian de Faria, said, they are pleased to take this big step forward in 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” de Faria said.
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.”
In his remarks, Ime Archibong, Director of Global Product Partnerships at Facebook, said they have spent time with the developer community in Nigeria to understand how they could help people build and create for their communities, and by bringing basic access to Nigeria which they 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,” he said stressing they believe that local entrepreneurs and developers will be the ones to meet the needs of their immediate community.
Facebook, he said, is working with developers to know how best to 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,” Archibong said.
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Pix: L-R, CEO Airtel Segun Ogunsanya; Head of Policy for Facebook in Africa, Ebele Okobi; Global Director Product Partnerships, Facebook, Ime Archibong and Global Director Operator Partnerships, Markku Makelainen, also of Facebook, at the launch of Free Basic Services by Airtel Nigeria in partnership with Facebook, held at Victoria Island, Lagos on Tuesday.

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