CC image courtesy of hn on Flickr
Airtel and the Wikimedia Foundation have announced a strategic partnership to provide Airtel’s customers with access to the knowledge and information available on Wikipedia through their mobile phones free of data charges.
The partnership will help provide Wikipedia to 70 million new users in the region, starting in Kenya, and is part of the Wikimedia Foundation’s Wikipedia Zero programme, which focuses on reaching the billions of people around the world whose primary opportunity to access the internet is via a mobile device.
Kul Takanao Wadhwa, head of mobile at Wikimedia, said: “We are thrilled that Airtel has joined us in removing two major barriers to accessing Wikipedia on mobile phones. Not only are we making it freely available on the mobile web but we are also launching our first Wikipedia via text service that will allow people without data enabled phones to access Wikipedia.”
Andre Beyers, chief marketing officer of Airtel Africa, said: “Airtel is committed to using its infrastructure to expand knowledge across the countries that it operates in. Due to the fact that most of the population has access to a cell phone, it is the best way to reach out and educate our communities. We will offer this service free of charge to our customers to enable access to all.”
For customers who do not have internet-enabled handsets, Airtel will offer Wikipedia by text message as a pilot programme in Kenya. This unique service will allow customers to search Wikipedia using a plain text menu, without the need for a mobile browser.