Facebook’s Internet.org is continuing its march into Africa through a partnership with South Africa’s third largest operator Cell C.
In addition to Facebook, Internet.org’s free basic services initiative will provide Cell C customers with access to 28 free internet services including 6 education sites, 4 healthcare information services, and a number of job and news services.
The service launches on 1 September 2015 with access to basic internet services free for an initial 12 month period. Customers will have the option to buy Cell C data bundles while on Facebook or Internet.org.
“Cell C understands that some South Africans, specifically those in rural areas, need to travel exceptionally long distances to find work, or information on healthcare or education. The launch of Internet.org will make the world a little smaller and information far more accessible to them,” commented Dos Santo, CEO of Cell C.
Internet.org was developed by Facebook and its technology partners to create a way to bring affordable Internet access to under-served communities. Through network operator partnerships, that have the drive to bring these basic services to customers for free, Facebook has launched this service in many under-serviced countries in Africa and around the world, including India, Ghana and Kenya.
"We are excited to bring Internet.org free basic services to Cell C customers in South Africa,” commented Markku Makelainen, Director of Global Operator Partnerships at Facebook. “With Internet.org free basic services, more people in South Africa will have access to resources and information that can create new opportunities and ideas, and help improve their lives."
Bringing access to those that need it most has become a national imperative for South Africa, with only 10,9% of households having access to the Internet at home. Growth of access is slow, showing a mere 0.9% increase year-on-year according to Stats SA’s 2014 General Household Survey.
Access to information and ICT is proven to incorporate people into the formal economy and drives top line improvements for those that participate. “South Africans in both the private and public sector need to continue to drive initiatives in this space to ensure that the country can compete on a global stage,” added Santos.