The first Internet-free Facebook, email and online chat service for Portuguese speaking Africans has been launched by ForgetMeNot Africa...
The first Internet-free Facebook, email and online chat service for Portuguese speaking Africans has been launched by ForgetMeNot Africa. Mobile operator T-Mais is improving its 100,000 subscribers’ access to mobile internet by enabling internet messaging via SMS in the remote islands of Cape Verde. Customers can use the service for free until December 18th.
The new “Ch@t+” service uses ForgetMeNot Africa’s Message Optimiser technology to convert Facebook actions and updates, emails and online chat messages into SMS format, and vice-versa. It bypasses the need for internet access and does not require subscriptions, smartphones, software downloads or data connections – transforming even the most basic handset into a virtual smartphone.
Six deployments of Message Optimiser in English and French speaking countries across east, west, southern and central Africa are already providing 47.5 million people with access to internet messaging on even the most basic mobile phones. But the launch of the new Portuguese version opens up Internet-free Facebook, email and online chat to nearly 23 million Portuguese speakers across Africa.
Jeremy George, Chief Operating Officer for ForgetMeNot Africa, said: “Our development work means that ForgetMeNot Africa technology can now serve the vast majority of people across Africa, no matter whether they speak English, French or Portuguese. This is a major step towards our aim to bridge the digital divide in Africa by providing internet messaging on every mobile phone on the continent.”
The latest ITU figures show 30 per cent of Cape Verde’s 491,875 inhabitants had used the Internet by the end of 2010, nearly triple the figure of 10.8 per cent of people across Africa who have ever been online. The ITU figures also show more than 60 per cent of people in the country have a mobile phone subscription, making mobile phones the most convenient way for Cape Verdeans to access internet messaging.
Mr George said: “T-Mais is transforming all of its subscribers’ mobile phones into virtual smartphones, no matter how basic their handset is. By providing affordable access to Facebook, email and online chat on the go, without the need for data plans or expensive handsets, T-Mais is extending more convenient internet messaging capabilities to its entire subscriber base.”
The Ch@t+ service will also be a vital tool for tourists, farmers and fishermen and local businesses, giving them a simple, low-cost method of establishing two-way email and online chat communications with friends, staff, suppliers and customers without having to invest in new technology, handsets or infrastructure.
Miss Tavares at T-Mais said: “Ch@t+ enables all of our subscribers to keep in touch with their friends, colleagues and family both in Cape Verde and all over the world whenever and wherever they like. We are offering the service to our subscribers for free until December 18th, allowing people free access to Facebook, email and online chat.
“ForgetMeNot Africa’s technology is transforming communications in the country as people no longer have to rely on going to internet cafes, offices or hotels, and don’t have to buy expensive smartphones to access internet messaging.”