Orange to offer free Wikipedia access in Africa and the Middle East (Europe, Africa, Middle East)
Telecommunications operator Orange has entered into an agreement with the Wikimedia Foundation to provide over 70 million Orange customers in Africa and the Middle East (AMEA) with mobile access to Wikipedia, without incurring data usage charges.
The move comes in an attempt to make knowledge more easily available to Orange mobile customers, in both remote and urban areas, throughout Africa and the Middle East. According to a company report, this new partnership will be gradually launched throughout 2012 across 20 African and Middle Eastern countries where Orange operates, with the first markets launching early in the year. The initiative is part of the Wikimedia Foundation’s mobile strategy that aims to reach the billions of people around the world who access the internet solely through mobile devices.
The report reveals that any customer with an Orange SIM and mobile internet enabled phone will be able to access the Wikipedia site either through their browser or an Orange widget. They can access the Wikipedia encyclopaedia services for as many times as they like at no extra charge as long as they stay within Wikipedia’s pages.
Sue Gardner, Executive Director, Wikimedia Foundation said that Wikipedia is an important service, a public good, and so they want people to be able to access it for free, regardless of what device they’re using. Further, this partnership with Orange will enable millions of people to read Wikipedia, who previously couldn’t.
Marc Rennard, Group Executive Vice President of Orange, Africa, the Middle-East and Asia, commented, in countries where access to information is not always readily available, they are making it simple and easy for our customers to use the world’s most comprehensive online encyclopaedia. It is the first partnership of this kind in the world where they are enabling customers to access Wikipedia without incurring any data charges; and shows Orange’s ability, once again, to innovate in Africa and the Middle East, and bring more value to their customers.