ForgetMeNot: Bringing Internet to the Data-less

Internet penetration in Africa has not been as fast as expected. In rural Africa, internet connectivity still becomes a dream. Telecommunication companies in Africa including Safaricom and Yu have in the recent past tried to get non-data means of reaching their subscribers. One company behind the successes of dataless internet is Zimbabwe/UK company ForgetMeNot Africa.

“ForgetMeNot Africa is a company which has developed a technology that brings the internet to people who would not normally have access to it, we sometimes call this the ‘dataless internet’,” Jeremy George, the Chief Operating Officer told HumanIPO in an interview. “We recognize that 90% of the world’s mobile users do not have access to the mobile internet and although that number is decreasing there is an opportunity to provide services to those users by means other than data. The challenge is to provide services that are suited to technologies such as SMS and USSD and that are locally relevant.”

ForgetMeNot has earned a lot of good reputation across Africa by providing solutions that help the dataless connect to the internet. eTXT is one of their product that is being used continent-wide. In Kenya in 2010, Safaricom used eTXT platform to launch Kipokezi, a service that let over 18 million Safaricom users to access chat and email through SMS. The same concept was replicated by Yu Mobile in the same year with their Peperusha service. Many other African telecommunications companies have embraced this technology. This year Orange Company in Kenya also introduced Facebook access for the dataless phones using a similar platform.

ForgetMeNot was founded in 2004, and now is owned partly by Cambria Africa PLC which has 51% share in the company. Cambria Africa is an investment company based in Zimbabwe. The company has since seen their services being used in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Angola and Francophone countries in Africa. This mainly done through mobile service providers in these countries.

“We continue to roll out our services with Mobile Network Operators in Africa and elsewhere across the world. We will continue to do this,” Jeremy promised. “Parallel to that activity we work with the mobile network, local developers, business and subscribers to enhance existing services and create new ones. Our goal is to get better, more useful, and more fun for more people.”

ForgetMeNot has not relented on its aim to work with local developers to bring internet access closer to he masses. Recently, the company held developer challenges in Kenya and in Zimbabwe. Apart from working with mobile networks, ForgetMeNot has currently over a million users in Africa, according to Jeremy.

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