Free Wikipedia access for Africa mobile users

Posted on Sunday, January 29, 2012, under

Wikipedia-logoUsers in Africa and the Middle East will soon be able to access the Wikipedia for free on their mobile phones. This comes after Mobile Operator Orange Partnered with the Wikimedia Foundation in an initiative aimed at increasing the reach of the foundation.

The initiative that originally started 2009 in Europe will now extend to more than 20 countries in Africa and the Middle East where Mobile Operator

Orange has coverage.

Users will not be charged for data access on the

Wikipedia website when they access the pages via a web browser on their mobile and so long as they stay within the website.

Wikipedia is the largest online encyclopedia that allows users to edit the files and update branches of knowledge as covered by historical events.

The initiative according to Wikimedia Foundation executive director Sue Gardner is to help keep Wikipedia free for public use from all internet enabled devices.  The announcement received a welcome call especially from students whose primary source of accessing the internet is the mobile phone.

James Mathenge, an IT student at the Jomo Kenyatta University in Kenya when asked to comment about the initiative said “Its hard enough that I have to do my homework via mobile considering the heavy data charges but now thanks to Wikipedia, there will be no excuse for lagging behind in studies and current events.”

Wikipedia thus becomes the first organization to launch such a free project though this might be compared to the effort by some mobile operators such as

YU Kenya who allow free access to certain social networks on the web such as Facebook.

However, the question that should really pose is whether the initiative will succeed against a poor reading culture in Africa.

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