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Facebook, Airtel launch Free Basic services in 17 African countries

Facebook and telco provider Airtel on Tuesday announced a partnership that will see two companies launch Free Basics in 17 African countries.

Free Basics, part of Facebook’s Internet.org programme is a set of basic websites and services to introduce people to the internet and demonstrate how it adds value to their lives. They include providing free health, education and finance-related information to people in developing countries so that they can make informed choices and decisions to improve their lives.

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In the first phase, Free Basics will be launched in Airtel Nigeria, DRC, Gabon and Niger followed by other Airtel Africa markets. Customers with an Airtel mobile connection will be able to access all the services that form part of Free Basics without paying extra for data charges or rental.

The news comes just a day after Facebook announced a deal with the Praekelt Foundation to get more African developers building for the Free Basics platform.

“With Africa’s widest 3G network, Airtel has been at the forefront of the data revolution in Africa,” said Christian de Faria, MD and CEO of Airtel 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.”

The realtionship between Airtel and Facebook is not a new one, with the two companies having worked together on internet accessibility since 2014.

“We are excited to continue our partnership with Airtel in bringing more people online,” said Chris Daniels, VP of Internet.org. “More than one billion people have access to Internet.org’s free basic services across Asia, Africa and Latin America today. Our intention is to help the people in Africa access relevant basic services that will help them improve their lives and also lead to more adoption of the internet.”

“I am especially pleased to note that the platform encourages developers to create local content which helps customer’s access services in a language they understand and also keeping them connected online,” he added

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