Facebook-Airtel Internet-access program expands to four more African nations

Facebook and telecommunications company Bharti Airtel Africa recently said they have partnered to expand an Internet-access program, called Free Basics, to four more African nations.

Free Basics is a group of websites and online services to connect people in developing nations to the web and direct them to sites with free health, education and finance-related information.

The two companies began introducing Free Basics in 2014, when the program was introduced in Zambia, Kenya, Malawi, Ghana, Seychelles and Rwanda. This new round of connections will be offered in Nigeria, Niger, Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo, followed by other markets currently serviced by Airtel's other telecom products.

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

Free Basics is part of an ongoing international effort to bring affordable Internet access to developing countries. Officials from Facebook's Internet.org said more than 1 billion people now have access to a version of Free Basics in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

This second phase of Free Basics in Africa will be completed by March 2016.

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