Highlights from Internet.org at AfricaCom

This week Ime Archibong, director of product partnerships, and Markku Makelainen, director of global operator partnerships, took the stage at AfricaCom in Cape Town. They discussed how Free Basics aims to connect billions of people to the internet by addressing barriers around affordability and lack of awareness, particularly in Africa where we first launched Free Basics last year.

By providing people with access to Free Basics, our goal is to bring more people online and help them discover the value of the internet — and it’s working. Free Basics is now live in 30 countries with 34 operators. Through our connectivity efforts, we’ve brought more than 15 million people online, introducing them to the value of the internet. And we have hundreds of services available on the Free Basics Platform across the globe driving interest in local developer services.

We’re working to roll Free Basics out in even more countries over the coming months, and had two important announcements this week around progress across the African continent:

Introducing Praekelt Foundation Incubator for Free Basics

On Monday, we announced the Praekelt Foundation Incubator for Free Basics, designed to accelerate the impact and growth of hundreds of social change organizations. We’re working with Praekelt to invest in this incubator program that will start by helping up to 100 social change organizations build for Free Basics. Participation will provide companies with the tools and services they need to reach people just coming online.

You can read more about the incubator from the Praekelt Foundation here and developers interested in registering for the incubator can go here.

Expansion of Free Basics to all Airtel markets in Africa

And on Tuesday, Airtel Africa announced its partnership with Facebook which will see the launch of Free Basics in all 17 countries where it operates in Africa. Airtel will start by launching Free Basics in Airtel Nigeria, DRC, Gabon and Niger, followed by its other African markets. Since 2014, they’ve already brought Free Basics to Zambia, Kenya, Malawi, Ghana, Seychelles and Rwanda.

Christian de Faria, MD and CEO of Airtel Africa said, “With Africa’s widest 3G network, Airtel has been at the forefront of the data revolution in Africa. We are cognizant of the power of internet in changing lives of communities and this partnership with Facebook will aid in bringing more people online and reduce the digital divide.”

You can read more about the full announcement from Airtel Africa here.

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