Mobile email and voice chat for SMS-capable handsets launching in Nigeria

 A new service launching in Nigeria is bridging the country’s digital divide by providing customers with any SMS-capable mobile handset access to pay-as-you-go two-way mobile email and online chat...

A new service launching in Nigeria is bridging the country’s digital divide by providing customers with any SMS-capable mobile handset access to pay-as-you-go two-way mobile email and online chat.

Glo Mobile – a subsidiary of Globacom, Nigeria's largest independent mobile phone network - is rolling out the new low-cost GloMessenger service to its entire subscriber base using ForgetMeNot Africa's mobile technology.

Nigeria is the highest populated African nation with more than 150 million people but only 16% (24 million) of Nigerians have access to the Internet, according to International Telecommunications Union (ITU) figures.

On the other hand, Nigeria is Africa’s leading mobile market, and Glo Mobile has more than 40% (25 million) of the country's 61 million mobile phone subscribers. It is now offering mobile phone users access to two-way email and chat on any mobile phone without the need for subscriptions, smartphones, Java downloads or data connections.

ForgetMeNot Africa is a specialist in providing unified messaging for telecommunications operators. The company's Message Optimiser (MO) technology bypasses the need for Internet access and opens up two-way email and online chat services to all mobile phone subscribers, even those in the most remote areas. Mobile network operators in East and Southern Africa have already successfully deployed MO, allowing their subscribers access to two-way email and chat.

Internet use across Africa remains low in comparison to Europe, the Americas and Asia-Pacific so the market potential for MO in Africa is huge. By the end of 2008, 246 million Africans had mobile subscriptions, yet only 13% (32 million) had access to the Internet due to poor quality fixed telephone lines. Mobile phones may be the only way for the vast majority of Africans to ever access the Internet.

GloMessenger is particularly attractive to young "early adopters" because it gives them a considerably cheaper and more convenient way of accessing two-way email and online chat compared to a standard Internet connection. The service also incorporates popular chat services such as MSN Messenger, Yahoo!, Windows Live and Gtalk so that users can send and receive messages, update their status and continue to chat online without needing a PC or internet access.

ForgetMeNot Africa's Chief Operating Officer, Jeremy George, said: "Glo Mobile is putting another brick in the bridge across the digital divide in Nigeria, using ForgetMeNot Africa's technology to offer widespread, cheap-to-use mobile email to millions of Nigerians. Only 5% of Nigerian households have a computer and the lack of cable access to the Internet makes accessing broadband difficult for the vast majority of Nigerians. Now they can keep in touch with their friends and family via email and online chat on basic handsets without any downloads."

Globacom's Head of Valued Added Services, Samson Isa, said: "Deploying ForgetMeNot Africa software for millions of Nigerians follows our continuing investment in Nigeria's telecoms infrastructure. GloMessenger gives all Nigerian people a chance to enjoy cheap Internet services and keep in touch with their friends and family both in Nigeria and abroad through two-way email and online chat.

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