Kenya is now the 3rd country in Africa to enjoy the internet.org app and service following the launch of the joint initiative between Facebook and Airtel Kenya yesterday evening at the Nailab located at the epicenter of the Kenyan Tech community- the Bishop Magua Center.
Internet.org, an initiative by Mark Zuckerberg is a coalition of Facebook, Samsung and several other large tech companies that promises to bring low-cost Internet access to people in under-serviced parts of the world, via smartphones. It has organized “efficiency hackathons,” where developers build apps that work on older phones, and it has lobbied cell providers not to charge for “essential” data usage, like weather apps and Wikipedia including other useful local content websites for education, news, health, entertainment among others.
#AirtelExp this is good news for internet users!! let the battle of supremacy btn Safaricom and Airtel commence!! * happy dance*
— Justin Biketi (@Biketiz) November 27, 2014
Re Local languages: Facebook & other sites have been translated to Kiswahili in Tz & this has increased uptake. #AirtelExp
— Hapa Kenya (@Hapakenya) November 27, 2014
The service was first launched in Zambia at the end of July through a partnership with Airtel Zambia, two weeks ago, it was launched in Tanzania in partnership with Tigo and yesterday, it was official launched in Kenya.
Yesterday’s launch event was attended by Kenyan Bloggers and content creators as well as the Airtel Kenya Head of Data & Services Joep Verheij and Facebook’s Growth and Partnerships Manager for Eastern and Southern Africa Naheed Hirji.
The 1 hour discussion covered the thoughts from the 2 organizations on the intended impact, as well as the future plans regarding the choice and variety of sites selected in the first phase of the role out. Many bloggers, though encouraged by the variety of sites available on the internet.org app requested that there be more locally relevant websites.
One thing that’s come out clearly is that Facebook sees the importance of having local languages to give users local content #AirtelExp
— BAKE (@BAKE_ke) November 27, 2014
Airtel Kenya customers will now be able to access the following news, information and communication services 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
The internet.org project has elicited a lot of criticism from industry experts with many terming the goal of providing universal, affordable Internet access as being nothing altruistic. Facebook is a publicly listed company.
Criticism aside, a lot of Kenyans who would love but cannot afford to access the internet despite having internet enabled feature phones and smartphones, internet.org will benefit tremendously from Facebook’s initiative even as more useful and relevant content is added especially on health, education and governance.
The launch was hosted and facilitated by the Bloggers Association of Kenya as part its Experience sessions that enables corporate organizations introduce and discuss their brands with Kenya online content creators and online influencers.